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The Structure of the Earth and Plate Tectonics. Structure of the Earth The Earth is made up of 3 main layers: –Core –Mantle –Crust Inner core Outer core.

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Presentation on theme: "The Structure of the Earth and Plate Tectonics. Structure of the Earth The Earth is made up of 3 main layers: –Core –Mantle –Crust Inner core Outer core."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Structure of the Earth and Plate Tectonics

2 Structure of the Earth The Earth is made up of 3 main layers: –Core –Mantle –Crust Inner core Outer core Mantle Crust

3 The Crust This is where we live! The Earth’s crust is made of: Continental Crust - thick (10-70km) - buoyant (less dense than oceanic crust) - older crust Oceanic Crust - thin (~7 km) - dense (sinks under continental crust) - Newer crust

4 How do we know what the Earth is made of? Geophysical surveys: seismic, gravity, magnetics, –Acquisition of information: land, air, sea and satellite –Geological surveys: fieldwork, boreholes, mines

5 What is Plate Tectonics?

6 If you look at a map of the world, you may notice that some of the continents could fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

7 Plate Tectonics The Earth’s crust is divided into 12 major plates which are moving in various directions. This motion causes the plates to collide, pull apart, or scrape against each other. Each type of interaction causes a characteristic set of Earth structures or “tectonic” features. The word “tectonic” refers to the deformation of the crust as a consequence of plate interaction.

8 World Plates

9 What are tectonic plates made of? Plates are made of rigid lithosphere. The lithosphere is made up of the crust and the upper part of the mantle.

10 What lies beneath the tectonic plates? Below the lithosphere (which makes up the tectonic plates) is the asthenosphere.

11 Plate Movement “Plates” of lithosphere are moved around by the underlying hot mantle convection cells

12 What happens at tectonic plate boundaries?

13 Divergent Convergent Transform Three types of plate boundary

14 Spreading ridges –As plates move apart, new material erupts from the mantle to fill the gap Divergent Boundaries

15 Age of Oceanic Crust Courtesy of

16 Iceland has a divergent plate boundary running through its middle Iceland: An example of continental rifting

17 There are three styles of convergent plate boundaries –Continent-continent boundaries –Continent-oceanic crust boundaries –Ocean-ocean boundaries Convergent Boundaries

18 Forms mountains, e.g. European Alps, Himalayas Continental-Continental Collision

19 Himalayas

20 This is called SUBDUCTION. A deep ocean trench forms at the edge of the continent. Continental-Oceanic Crust Collision

21 Oceanic lithosphere subducts, or goes underneath the continental lithosphere Oceanic lithosphere heats and dehydrates as it subsides The melt rises, forming volcanic mountains such as the Andes Subduction

22 When two oceanic plates collide, one runs over the other which causes it to sink into the mantle forming a subduction zone. The subducting plate is bent downward to form a very deep depression in the ocean floor called a trench. The deepest parts of the ocean are found along trenches. The Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean is 11,033 meters (36,201 feet) deep. To put this in perspective, Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, is 8,848 meters (29,028 feet) tall. Ocean-Ocean Plate Collision


24 Where plates slide past each other Transform Boundaries Above: View of the San Andreas transform fault

25 Earth’s Crustal Plates

26 …what’s the connection? Volcanoes and Plate Tectonics…

27 Volcanism is mostly focused at plate margins Pacific Ring of Fire

28 - Subduction - Rifting - Hotspots Volcanoes are formed by:

29 Pacific Ring of Fire Hotspot volcanoes

30 Hot mantle plumes breaching the surface in the middle of a tectonic plate What are Hotspot Volcanoes? Photo: Tom Pfeiffer / The Hawaiian island chain is an examples of hotspot volcanoes.

31 The tectonic plate moves over a fixed hotspot, forming a chain of volcanoes. The volcanoes get younger from one end of the chain to the other.

32 …what’s the connection? Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics…

33 As with volcanoes, earthquakes are not randomly distributed over the globe At the boundaries between plates, friction causes them to stick together. When built up energy causes them to break, earthquakes occur. Figure showing the distribution of earthquakes around the globe

34 Where do earthquakes form? Figure showing the tectonic setting of earthquakes

35 Plate Tectonics Summary The Earth is made up of 3 main layers; the core, the mantle and the crust) On the surface of the Earth are tectonic plates that are slowly moving around the globe Plates are made of the crust and upper part of the mantle (lithosphere) There are 2 types of plates, oceanic and continental There are 3 types of plate boundaries: convergent, divergent and transform Volcanoes and earthquakes are found at the edges of tectonic plates

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