plate tectonics

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plate tectonics

n.
1. (used with a sing. verb) A theory that explains the global distribution of geological phenomena such as seismicity, volcanism, continental drift, and mountain building in terms of the formation, destruction, movement, and interaction of the earth's lithospheric plates.
2. (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The dynamics of plate movement.

plate′-tec·ton′ic adj.

plate tectonics

n
(Geological Science) (functioning as singular) geology the study of the structure of the earth's crust and mantle with reference to the theory that the earth's lithosphere is divided into large rigid blocks (plates) that are floating on semifluid rock and are thus able to interact with each other at their boundaries, and to the associated theories of continental drift and seafloor spreading

plate′ tecton′ics


n.
a geologic theory that describes the earth's crust as divided into a number of rigid plates, movement of which accounts for such phenomena as continental drift and the distribution of earthquakes.
[1965–70]
plate′-tecton′ic, adj.

plate tectonics

In geology, a theory that the Earth's lithosphere (crust and upper mantle) is divided into a number of large, plate-like sections that move as distinct masses. See Notes at fault, Gondwanaland, See more at tectonic boundary.
Did You Know? Have you ever noticed that the Earth's continents seem to fit together like pieces of a puzzle? This observation is what led the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener to propose the theory of continental drift in 1915. Since rocks and fossils were found to match up in parts of different continents, it seemed that they must have once been joined, but no one could explain how such large landmasses could move so far apart. This problem was not solved until the 1960s, when the theory of plate tectonics was proposed. According to this theory, the continents move apart by riding piggyback on plates—huge slabs of the Earth's lithosphere—that are much larger than the continents themselves. The plates move like parts of a conveyor belt powered by huge convection currents of molten rock that many geologists believe is heated by the decay of radioactive elements deep within the Earth. Although they only move a few inches per year, over hundreds of millions of years the continents are carried thousands of miles. Along their boundaries, the plates crumple, scrape, or pull apart from one another, giving rise to volcanoes and earthquakes and creating and destroying rock on the ever-changing surface of the planet.

plate tectonics


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The study of how lithospheric plates move around.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.plate tectonics - the branch of geology studying the folding and faulting of the earth's crust
geomorphology, morphology - the branch of geology that studies the characteristics and configuration and evolution of rocks and land forms
Pangaea, Pangea - (plate tectonics) a hypothetical continent including all the landmass of the earth prior to the Triassic period when it split into Laurasia and Gondwanaland
References in periodicals archive ?
Accounting for the global mantle and plate tectonic forces to explain transform fault dynamics is an unprecedented approach that is possible only now due to advances in physical properties of mantle rocks, numerical technics and increasing available computational power.
Plate tectonic theory and its legacy for the 2lstcentury (Lecture, Bath)
In the present plate tectonic scenario, Pakistan is located on the northwestern comer of the Indian plate.
With the advent of plate tectonic theory, however, Bernie was fully vindicated.
The plume hypothesis has been challenged by Foulger (2011) who claims that plate tectonic processes play a major role in hotspot volcanism, and by Anderson (2013) who claims mantle plumes are basically a wellestablished myth.
It covers the Alps in their plate tectonic framework, the pre-Triassic basement of the Alps, the Alpine domain in the Mesozoic, the Alpine domain in the Cenozoic, the tectonic structure of the Alps, the tectonic evolution of the Alps, and the latest steps in the evolution of the Alps.
Stevens further explained that this led them to discover a previously unknown interaction between plate tectonic movements in America and dramatic changes in global temperature and the intensified monsoons created a positive feedback cycle, promoting more global cooling, more sea ice and even stronger precipitation, culminating in the spread of huge glaciers across the Northern Hemisphere.
The fascinating results we came back with have hugely increased our understanding of the Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW) that flows through the Gibraltar gateway and have led to some key discoveries about the relationship between climatic shifts, deep-water circulation and plate tectonic events over a huge timescale.
Plate tectonic theory says the Earth's crust is made up of about a dozen major plates that rest on hot mantle.
These places represent Australia through pre-Rodinian and Proterozoic plate tectonic processes, Devonian periods and mass extinction events.
One of the most interesting aspects of Canadian geology is the plate tectonic history, in which events on one margin of the continent are matched by contemporaneous, but different, types of event on another margin.
This intercontinental telescope network has been used to measure the movement of the continents--continental drift, or plate tectonic motion--with ever greater precision.