DR FRED ESPENAK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR FRED ESPENAK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Computer map centred on the Americas showing some of the oceanic ridges. These are visible as lighter blue formations on the oceanic floors and are the boundaries, which are drifting apart, between the plates carrying the continents and the oceanic floors. The East Pacific ridge (bottom left) runs almost parallel to the South American coast in the Pacific ocean. Along this ridge the rate of separation between the two oceanic plates is about 15 centimetres per year. At right the Mid-Atlantic ridge, which runs in a north-south direction almost at the centre of the Atlantic Ocean, is clearly visible. Its rate of separation is about 3cm per year.
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