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American and European tectonic plates

American and European tectonic plates

E350/0041

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Credit

SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

The meeting of the North American tectonic plate and the European tectonic plate can be clearly seen near Pingvellir, Iceland, where ravines and cliffs mark the line of the Atlantic Fault. To the left of the picture is the eastern edge of the north American continental plate, to the right the western edge of Europe. The Atlantic Fault cuts across Iceland from north-east (in the distance) to south-west. The two plates are slowly moving apart by the process of continental drift, as the Atlantic widens. This process causes Iceland's intense seismic & volcanic activity. The last major earthquake occurred at Pingvellir in 1789, when part of the land sank by 50cm in 10 days.

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