GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Earth's tectonic plates. Artwork of a hemisphere of the Earth, centred on eastern Canada, showing the boundaries (red) of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust. The Earth's crust (its outermost solid layer) does not remain stationary, but is formed of separate tectonic plates that are moved by convection currents in the still-molten layers below. New crustal material is formed and destroyed at the boundaries (creating volcanoes), and stresses are relieved by sudden movements of the crust called earthquakes. This is the North American Plate, where new ocean floor is created at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (right), but destruction of the Pacific Plate (left) creates volcanoes.
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