Global tectonics, the Americas

Global tectonics, the Americas

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Credit: KARSTEN SCHNEIDER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Global tectonics, the Americas. Satellite-based model of an Earth globe showing the tectonic plate boundaries (yellow lines) around the continents of North and South America. Seven primary tectonic plates make up the Earth's crust. The plates shown here include the North American Plate, the South American Plate, the Pacific Plate, the Caribbean Plate, the Cocos Plate, and the Nazca Plate. Phenomena observed at the plate boundaries include earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation. The movement of the tectonic plates over the millions of years of geologic time drives the creation, destruction and drifting of the continents. The movement of the tectonic plates is thought to be driven by convection currents in the underlying mantle.

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