KARSTEN SCHNEIDER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY KARSTEN SCHNEIDER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Global tectonics. Satellite-based map of a projection centred on the Pacific Plate. This is one of the seven primary tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust. Phenomena observed at the boundaries (yellow) between these plates include earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation. The particularly active Pacific Plate boundary forms the 'Ring of Fire'. Surrounding plates (clockwise from top right) are the North American Plate, the Cocos Plate, the Nazca Plate, the Antarctic Plate, the Australian Plate, the Philippines Plate and the Eurasian Plate. The movement of the tectonic plates by convection currents in the underlying mantle over the millions of years of geologic time drives the creation, destruction and drifting of the continents. To the west are the Caroline Plate and the Fiji, Solomon and Bismark microplates.
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