A map of Earth's tectonic plates. Plate boundaries are shown in red. Learn more about the geologic features related to Earth's tectonic plates at This Dynamic Planet
Click on image for full size
Modified from USGS
Many forces change the surface of the Earth over time. The largest force that changes our planetís surface is movement of Earth's outer layer in a process called plate tectonics.
As shown in this picture, the Earthís outer layer, called the lithosphere, is broken into plates which fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. These plates move very slowly (2 inches per year).
Plates crash into each other at subduction zones.
Plates pull apart at spreading ridges.
Plates slide past each other along large faults.
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