Takeaway: There are 4 types of plate boundaries. They are oceanic-oceanic convergent, divergent, convergent continental, and transform plates:
- Oceanic-oceanic convergent boundaries
- Divergent boundaries
- Convergent continental boundaries
- Transform plates
What are tectonic plates?
Tectonic plates are large sections of the earth’s lithosphere. They are the driving force behind plate tectonics, and they are made up of a number of plates that are moving in different directions.
The following types of plate boundaries exist:
- Divergent boundaries (where plates move apart)
- Convergent boundaries (where plates collide)
- Transform boundaries (where there is sliding past one another)
What are the different types of plates?
Plates are the large segments of Earth’s crust that move around on its surface. There are three types: convergent, divergent, and transform.
Convergent plates are moving toward each other. One plate is being pulled down into the mantle while another one is pushed up by forces within the mantle. As they converge, both plates slowly sink into a subduction zone where one plate sinks beneath the other. This process can produce volcanoes called arc volcanoes such as those found in Indonesia (see image above).
Divergent plates are moving away from each other—like in a case where two continents pull apart from each other and form what’s known as mid-ocean ridges like along Antarctica or in Iceland (see image above).
Transform boundaries occur when two plates slide past one another without any direct contact between them—for example, it could be a fault line that separates two continental blocks as shown in this video:
How are plates causing earthquakes?
There are several types of plate boundaries. A few examples include divergent, convergent and transform boundaries. In each case, rock material is being pushed together or pulled apart by the movement of the plates.
A common way that earthquake activity can occur is when two plates are moving against each other and cause a shift in their relative positions along a fault line. An example would be California’s San Andreas Fault, which runs up through Los Angeles and San Francisco on its way to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The Pacific Plate is sliding southward along this fault line at about 2 inches (5 centimeters) per year relative to an underlying crustal block called the North American Plate—a process known as geological slip. When enough stress builds up over time in between these blocks it can cause them to suddenly release energy with violent consequences: an earthquake!
What are non tectonic earthquakes?
There are non-tectonic earthquakes, which are caused by volcanic eruptions, landslides, and human activity.
What is a convergent boundary?
- A convergent boundary is where two plates move towards each other.
- In a convergent boundary, the overriding plate gets pushed down into the mantle. This is called subduction and it can happen when one plate moves over another or if both plates are moving in the same direction (compressional).
- At subduction zones, one plate slides underneath another and sinks into Earth’s mantle at depths ranging from less than 10 km to over 700 km and higher (involving deep oceanic trenches like Challenger Deep).
What are the types of convergence?
Convergence is the movement of tectonic plates towards each other. The plates are pushed together by the movement of the mantle layer, which causes them to rise up, making them collide and create a convergent boundary. This collision also happens because of gravity.
What are the examples of convergent boundary?
- The Pacific Plate is subducting under the North American Plate, forming the San Andreas Fault.
- The Indian Plate is subducting under the Eurasian Plate in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges.
- The African Plate is subducting under the Arabian plate in central Africa and along a chain of volcanoes (the East African Rift).
- Finally, similar to how it happens in Indonesia, there are several large volcanoes near where these plates meet each other at an angle (near New Zealand), as well as a hotspot that feeds many smaller volcanoes within this area.
What is a divergent boundary?
At divergent boundaries, the plates move apart. This causes oceanic crust to form at mid-ocean ridges, and continental crust to form on land as magma rises from deep within Earth’s mantle. At divergent boundaries, volcanism occurs along the ridge axis and hotspots in the rising magma create volcanic chains like Hawaii and Iceland. As you can see in the image below, the site of a divergent boundary is typically an underwater mountain range (trench) with volcanoes (hotspot).
What is a transform boundary?
Transform boundaries are where two plates slide past each other. The San Andreas Fault is a transform plate boundary in California. It’s formed when the Pacific Plate hits the North American Plate and moves it southwestward. This causes earthquakes to happen along this fault line, which runs through Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.
A transform plate boundary can also occur underwater when two oceanic plates move away from each other horizontally (think of this like two cars sliding away from each other). These subduction zones form deep trenches offshore with active volcanoes on either side of them like Japan’s Mount Fuji and Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii’s Big Island
What are four types of plate movement?
Plate boundaries can be divided into four types of plate movement:
- Divergent – where plates are pulled apart by tension forces, like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
- Convergent – where plates are forced together by compression forces, like at subduction zones.
- Transform – where a plate slides past another one normally or obliquely, such as the San Andreas Fault in California.
- Strike-slip (a type of transform boundary) – where there is no contact between the two sides and they move side-to-side relative to each other.
The plates in the earth’s lithosphere are always moving, and where they meet can tell us who is doing the pushing or even what will happen to them next.
It’s very important to understand that the plates in the earth’s lithosphere are always moving, and where they meet can tell us who is doing the pushing or even what will happen to them next.
There are three types of plate boundaries: convergent (where plates push together), divergent (where plates pull apart) and transform (where one plate slides past another).
As you can see from these animations, convergent boundaries can include subduction zones where one plate sinks under another or collision zones where two continental plates smash into each other. Divergent boundaries tend to be mid-ocean ridges where new crust is created by hot magma welling up from inside the earth’s mantel through fissures on either side of oceanic ridges; they also occur at spreading centers like Iceland. Transform boundaries occur when two lithospheric plates slide past one another along transform faults like San Andreas Fault in California or Denali Fault in Alaska.
We covered the types of plate boundaries (convergent, divergent and transform) here as well as some fun facts about earthquakes.