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Diagram of the Earth's tectonic plates

Diagram of the Earth's tectonic plates

E350/0061

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Credit

DAVID HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID HARDY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Map of the Earth showing the position and motion of tectonic plates. Three types of plate margins are shown: destructive margins where plates collide (thick lines); constructive margins where plates are spreading (medium lines); and conservative margins where plates slide past each other (thin lines). Arrows indicate the general direction of movement of the plates. Large orange patches indicate 'hot spots' in the crust, and small orange dots represent volcanoes. Particularly obvious is the correlation between plate margins and volcanoes on the west coast of the Americas, the Aleutian Islands and the east coast of Asia, the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

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