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Plate Tectonics and Crustal Features

The activity below to brush up on your vocabulary skills.  
Use the "Choose a Study Mode" button at the bottom right to change the type of activity.

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Key Concepts: 

These concepts are VERY important.

  • Currently, features on Earth’s crust can be observed as consequences of plate tectonics. A convergent boundary occurs as two plates collide together and form features such as mountains.
  • A divergent boundary occurs as two plates move away from one another and form features such as trenches.
  • A transform boundary occurs as two plates move past each other and form fault lines that cause earthquake activity and faulting.
  • Mountain ranges, trenches, canyons, and other features can be observed from space, and these images can be used to support theories about tectonic plate activity. 

Fundamental Questions: 

Think about these questions as your watch the videos and read the text.  You should be able to answer them by the time you are finished with this page.

  • What features of the Earth's crust do convergent, divergent, and transform boundaries form?
  • What land features formed by the movement of tectonic plates can be observed using images from space?

The two videos below will help you understand how tectonic plates move, the different types of plate boundaries, and the types of land forms that occur at each type of boundary.

Key information for plate boundaries:

There are 3 types of convergent boundaries.

        Oceanic to Continental                        Continental to Continental                        Oceanic to Oceanic

Subduction happens at convergent boundaries.  Subduction is when one plate is pushed under another plate.

At convergent boundaries, tectonic plates are moving towards each other.  Here, you will find...
  • Mountains
  • Volcanoes 
  • Trench (under the ocean)

Divergent boundaries develop like the image below.

At divergent boundaries, tectonic plates are moving away from each other.  Here, you will find...
  • Rift Valley
  • Ridges (if under the ocean)
  • Faults
  • Small eruptions, but not full volcanoes
Transform boundaries are tectonic plates slipping beside each other.

At transform boundaries, you will find "disconnected" land forms; land forms that were once together but are now disconnected, like the river in the above picture.

If you can remember which way the plates are moving at each boundary, then you will do just fine!

Also, remember that convection currents cause the plates to move and are the reason there are ridges and rifts at divergent boundaries and trenches, mountains, and volcanoes at convergent boundaries.

Do you feel confident?  If so, move on to the next page.  If not, watch the video below to help summarize what you have learned thus far.

YouTube Video