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North America Plate

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John Hart

on 9 April 2014

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Transcript of North America Plate


by John Hart, Hamza Shaikh, and Jada Lewis

The northern boundary of the NAP is made up of part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, called the Gakkel Ridge, and runs along the Eurasian Plate into Siberia.

The eastern boundary of the NAP is made up of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge along the Eurasian Plate. It also runs along part of the African plate, rounding the southern corner.

The southern boundary of the NAP is made up of the Cocos Plate, the Caribbean Plate, the Gonâve Microplate, and the South American Plate.

The western boundary of the NAP is part of the Pacific Plate, the Queen Charlotte Fault, the San Andreas Fault, the East Pacific Rise, and the Middle America Trench. Under the Gulf of California is the Gulf of California Rift Zone, a series of rift basins and transform fault segments.
The North American Plate

The North American Plate is one of the major tectonic plates on the surface of Earth. The North American Plate covers most all of North America, including Greenland, parts of Cuba, U.S.A.,parts of the Bahamas, Canada, Mexico, parts of Iceland, and parts of Russia. It extends eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and west to eastern Siberia. The plate includes both continental and oceanic layers.
Types of Plate Boundaries
New crust forms and old crust is returned to the Earth's core at tectonic plate boundaries. When heat from the Earth's core releases, it causes the different plate layers to move. Eventually the crust slowly splits because of the energy and pressure, causing rifts to form. Magma can seep up and fill the cracks. Sometimes when moving plates meet, the plate(s) go upward forming mountains and volcanoes, while the other plate moves downward if it didn't go upward with the other one. The edge of the plate that moves downwards can eventually sink to the core and melt. Large and small earthquakes can occur along these type of boundaries. Similarly, any time plates are moving past each other, the energy that builds up can be released as earthquakes.
The place where two plates meet is called a boundary. There are three different types of plate boundaries, including Divergent Boundaries, Convergent Boundaries, and Transform Boundaries. As the plates move, they are diverging (pulling apart) or converging (pushing together), or transforming (sliding past each other), during this process neither plate is destroyed but is pushed up or down. These movements can cause earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, rifts, make mountains, etc.

The North American plate moves southwest about 1 inch every year.
Boundaries Along the North American Plate
Plate Tectonics is the reason for the movement of continents hundreds of millions of years ago from one huge landmass called Pangaea to the plate positions we have today.
North American Plate Movement Map
According to US Geological Survey, there have been over 58,000 earthquakes in the US/NAP from 1990 to 2009. That's an average of 3,050 earthquakes per year .
To the north, Canada has about 4,000 earthquakes per year, according to Natural Resources.
The largest magnitude earthquake recorded in the NAP region was a 9.2 magnitude in Alaska in 1964. It lasted 4 minutes and 38 seconds. It is the second most powerful earthquake ever measured by seismograph, and caused massive destruction.
Along the western NAP boundary, the second largest earthquake was a 9 magnitude in the Cascadia subduction zone in 1700, one of the earliest officially measured earthquakes.
The deadliest earthquake in the NAP region occurred in San Francisco, California in April of 1906, in which approximately 3,000 people died from the earthquake and the fires it caused....The magnitude 7.8.
Volcanic Eruption!
History of NAP Boundaries
The U.S. Geological Survey has a Volcano Hazards Program in place. It has a nationwide alert-notification system, and is heavily relied upon by NAP countries. It monitors the level of unrest and eruptive activity at volcanoes. It is designed to warn people on the ground and in aviation. For people on the ground, it has four alert levels:
(non-eruptive resting state),
(volcano is exhibiting signs of unrest),
(volcano is exhibiting more unrest with potential of eruption), and
(hazardous eruption is happening).
For aviation, the meanings are the same, but they use four color codes instead:
, and
. This warning system helps flights over broad regions of the world determine the status of thousands of volcanoes and re-route their flights if necessary.

Earthquakes seem to come out of nowhere...they are impossible to predict early. You can be going about your normal day, when suddenly you find yourself being shaken by an earthquake. The energy that radiates out of an earthquake is the shaking that people feel. One of the most earthquake-prone regions in the NAP is the boundary along the California coast. California has in place the Office of Emergency Services and the California Integrated Seismic Network, with 400 seismic stations around the state. They are trying to implement an early warning system (based on P waves and S waves), but it would only be a few seconds of early warning, less than a minute for earthquakes less than a magnitude 8. San Francisco has automated systems on its trains that brake when an earthquake occurs, helping to prevent derailments. Other automated systems being done in NAP countries isolate hazardous chemicals and put manufacturing robotic machines into safe mode when an earthquake begins.
History of NAP Boundaries
Along the NAP's southern boundary at the Caribbean Plate and Puerto Rico Trench, earthquakes are common--but most are less than 3.0 on the Richter Scale; However, in February of this year, a 6.5 and a 5.1 magnitude quake hit the Caribbean area.
Along NAP's eastern boundary, the area of Greenland has experienced a big increase in the number of glacial earthquakes since 2002, and they tend to peak every year in July, August, and September.
Volcanic History of the NAP
Along the western boundary of the North American Plate, Mount St. Helens is one of the most famous volcanoes, having erupted big in 1980. Also notable is the Mexican volcano, Popocatepetl, which has been smoking and shaking since it re-awakened in 1996.
The U.S./NAP is home to more than 169 active volcanoes (having erupted sometime in the last 200 years). EIGHTY PERCENT of those are located in Alaska's Aleutian Islands chain...a result of the sinking Pacific Plate beneath the North American Plate. Similarly, the Hawaiian islands owe there existence to volcanoes.
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