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Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, and Landforms

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kathrin smith

on 2 July 2013

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Transcript of Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, and Landforms

Lastly, transform boundaries are formed when tectonic plates slide and grind against each other. These types of boundaries are found on ocean floors along mid-ocean ridges. A very popular one is the San Andreas fault, located in California.
Landforms, Earthquakes, and Plate Tectonics
Plate Tectonics
Physical and chemical principles are unchanging and drive both rapid and gradual changes in the Earth system.
The Big Idea
Tectonic plates are large slabs of rock that make up Earth's lithosphere.
Connections Between Concepts
There are some important notes about plate tectonics and how they relate to earthquakes and landforms.
Earthquakes
Landforms
There are many types of Landforms, such as Mountains, Valleys, and Volcanoes.
Check out the red lines on this mental model of the Earth. The red lines show where the main tectonic plates are located in the
lithosphere.
Let's start off with the basics. What is the Lithosphere?
The lithosphere is the outermost layer of the earth, and the asthenosphere is right below it.
Landforms are natural features of the earth.
Mountains
Landforms are natural features of the earth.
Mountains are landforms formed from tectonic plates. They are landforms that are much higher than the land around them. Also they taper at the top into a peak. A mountain range is a group or chain of mountains that are close together. There are dome mountains, fault block mountains, fold mountains, volcanic mountains, and residual mountains. Also, mountains valleys are deep and narrow.
Valleys
Landforms are natural features of the earth.
The lithosphere is the only layer of the earth accessible to humans.
A valley is a low area of land between hills or mountains. Usually, they have a river or a stream running through them. Erosion by rivers is the main valley forming process.
Both the lithosphere and the asthenosphere are located in the earth's crust.
The depth of a river is determined by how fast the water is moving and the resistance of material where the river channel is cutting.
An
earthquake
is the sudden violent shaking of the ground, sometimes causing great destruction. This is a result of movements within the earth's crust.
Layers of the Earth
There are many layers of the earth, but the main three are the
core
(inner layers), the
mantle
(middle layers), and the
crust
(outermost layer).
Look at this next diagram.
Aftershocks, Mainshocks and Foreshocks
It shows the layers of the earth with a little more detail than we have already explained. See if you can understand where the crust, mantle, and core lie.
-The length of time of the aftershock is determined by the length of the mainshock.
-Aftershocks can last for days, weeks, months, or even years.
asthenosphere (still in crust)
lithsophere (still in crust)
-A
foreshock
is a series of smaller earthquakes that happen in the same spot as a larger earthquake (mainshock).
mantle
inner and outer core
-The largest/main earthquake is known as the
mainshock
.
crust
-
Aftershocks
are small earthquakes that occur after the mainshock in the same place.
-Earthquakes tend to be more concentrated in narrower zones or "belts". This is where plate tectonics meet.
Quiz your knowledge and see if you can figure out which layer is which in this diagram of the earth. You can check your answers on the next slide.
-An Earthquake is when two blocks of the earth (plate tectonics) slide past one another.
- The surface in which the plate tectonic slips is called the fault line or the fault plate.
-The location under the earth where the earthquake starts is called the
hypocenter
.
-The area directly above the hypocenter is called the
epicenter
, which is on the surface of the earth.
Important Facts
All tectonic plates are named.
There are seven large, main, irregularly shaped plate tectonics, but there are many more small ones.
Currently, the largest recorded tectonic plate is a plate named The Pacific Plate. It is the largest tectonic plate with an area of over 103 million square kilometers! It holds the Pacific Ocean, therefore it is an oceanic plate.
The smallest tectonic plate is the Juan de Fuca plate. It is located along the northwest coast of North America.
The main seven tectonic plates in order from largest to smallest are the Pacific, Eurasian, African, American (North), Antarctic, American (South), and Indo-Australian.
Very small tectonic plates, such as the Juan de Fuga, are known as microplates.
Three Types of Plate Boundaries
The three types of plate boundaries are divergent, convergent, and transform. Let's generally look into each type of boundary before going into real detail.
Divergent boundaries are formed when two tectonic plates move away from each other.
Convergent boundaries are formed when two plates converge, or crush into each other.
Transform boundaries are formed when plates grind against each other, or slide past one another.
Divergent boundaries are the boundaries formed when plates move apart. In between the two plates, new crust is formed. An example of a divergent boundary is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is depicted below.
What is a Volcano?
Earthquakes happen because of the movement of plate tectonics. The earthquake occurs when two blocks of earth (plate tectonics) suddenly slide past one another.
Landforms are natural features of the earth.
Volcanoes
Convergent boundaries are plate boundaries formed when two tectonic plates crush together. The denser of the two plates goes under the other!
For example, if two oceanic plates (which are tectonic plates found in the ocean) collide, the denser of the two plates goes under the other and forms an oceanic trench. If an oceanic plate and a continental plate collide (a continental plate is a tectonic plate that holds land/continents), the oceanic plate will go under the continental plate and goes into the mantle. If two continental plates collide, the crust thickens and is forced to create landforms such as mountains.
This image shows the Great Rift Valley that stretches from the Middle East to southern Africa.
If two of these plates were to impact against each other, an earthquake could occur.
Notice how the mountains taper at the top. This means that they diminish or reduce in size at the top, creating the peak of the mountain.
Then, this earthquake could create a mass amount of destruction and/or a change how the earth looked. Like creating a land form or change some land elevations.
PANGEA
Here is a deeper understanding of how an earthquake is formed from the movement of plate tectonics.
Pangea was a super continent, believed to have been on the Earth around three hundred million years ago. All of the continents that we know today were conjoined into one large continent. Convection in the mantle caused the continent to break off into many other continents.
Volcanoes are openings in the Earth’s surface. When they are active they can let ash, gas and hot magma escape in violent and sometimes spectacular eruptions.
Some examples of physical principles are inertia, heat transfer, and gravity.
Uniformitarianism is the theory that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe are and have been the same since they began operating.
Some examples of chemical principles are Conservation of Mass and the forming of compounds.
Gradual changes happen over a long period of time (erosion).
Rapid changes happen over a relatively short period of time (ash filling the sky from a volcanic eruption).

Pangea was the starting point/beginning for continental drift. The theory of continental drift is the belief that convection in the mantle made one large continent "drift", or seperate into smaller continents. Who knows - Maybe one day the continents will drift back into another Pangea again.
Some valleys are formed from faults. This occurs by geologic faulting, where the land between two parallel faults drops down to give a broad central plain with steep sides.
Plate tectonics is actual theory that tectonic plates are here on the earth.
SHORT DENSITY DISCUSSION:
Density is the amount of mass per given volume. Therefore, whichever one of the plates has more matter squished into the space will go under the other.
Convection in the mantle:
Radioactive decay in the core heats the first layer of the mantle (closest to the core). The density of that area of the mantle decreases, causing it to be pushed up by the denser parts of the mantle towards the surface of the earth. The liquid spreads, cools, then descends back towards the core so that the cycle can repeat. The way the convection moves creates a horizontal motion. This causes the movement of plate tectonics, therefore the movement of continents.
To begin, the shifting of plate tectonics is what causes earthquakes. When the tectonic plates suddenly slide past one another, the pressure causes waves to send all throughout the ground. These shakings of the earth are earthquakes!
Next, plate tectonics relate to landforms. When two tectonic plates collide, they can push upwards and form mountains/mountain chains. Oceanic trenches are formed from convergent plate boundaries. When oceanic plates collide, the denser one goes under the other and creates an oceanic trench.
-Plate tectonics relate to the fourth BIOS because of uniformitarianism. By studying plate tectonics with the technology that we have today, we can learn about plate tectonics were from the beginning of earth.

-Without this BIOS being true, we wouldn't know half of the information we know about plate tectonics in the past as we do today. Of course, we know plate tectonics are the cause for earthquakes and landforms, so we would not know much about them either.
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/kids/images/fault_labeled.gif
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