JON LOMBERG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JON LOMBERG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Tectonic plate boundary subduction zone. Diagram showing the seismic and volcanic activity along a subducting tectonic plate boundary. Earth's upper surface is shown in section. An outer, rigid layer (lithosphere, across centre) overlies molten rock (deep mantle, across bottom). The lithosphere is made up of slowly-moving tectonic plates (grey). Here, two plates are colliding. The plate on the right is being pushed below (subducted under) the other plate, melting the lithospheric rock as it enters the mantle. New rock is formed at the mid- ocean ridge (upper right) where this plate spreads apart. Less dense oceanic and continental rocks (white) cover the left tectonic plate.
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