GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Plate tectonics. Artwork showing the processes of plate tectonics around an ocean basin. The Earth's crust is made up of tectonic plates that move on top of molten rock (red/yellow). Continental rock (light brown) rides on top of heavier rocks (pink) that also make up the ocean basins. New ocean rock is formed at mid-ocean ridges (centre, red arrow). This leads to sea-floor spreading (yellow arrows) and the drifting apart of the continents. At right is an active continental margin, with a subduction zone where oceanic rock is being pushed under the continental plate and destroyed, forming volcanoes along the margin (lower right). Mountains form along margins, and a hotspot has created volcanic islands (upper left) on the oceanic plate.
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