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Earth's tectonic plates

Earth's tectonic plates

E350/0079

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Credit

GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Earth's tectonic plates, artwork. The Earth's surface is divided up into several major plates. These are rocky slabs that float and move on the more fluid layer beneath them. Current direction of movement is indicated by red arrows. The boundaries between plates are geologically active areas, and are the sites of the majority of the world's volcanoes and earthquakes. Plate tectonics, the study of the plates, has revealed a huge amount about the Earth. For instance, South America's east coast appears to fit into Africa's west coast because they were once joined, but the plates that hold them are moving apart. Also, where the Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate, the Himalayas were formed.

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