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World plate tectonics (click on map for more details)

Tectonics (from the Vulgar Latin tectonicus, meaning "building") is a field of study within geology concerned generally with the structures within the lithosphere of the Earth (or other planets) and particularly with the forces and movements that have operated in a region to create these structures.

Tectonics is concerned with the orogenies and tectonic development of cratons and tectonic terranes as well as the earthquake and volcanic belts which directly affect much of the global population. Tectonic studies are also important for understanding erosion patterns in geomorphology and as guides for the economic geologist searching for petroleum and metallic ores.

There are a number of subordinate and related fields. A subfield of tectonics that deals with tectonic phenomena in the geologically recent period is called neotectonics. Tectonics is closely related to structural geology. The difference between the fields is a matter of scale: structural geologists are generally concerned with finer-scale rock deformation, while those studying tectonics are more concerned with the broader features. Tectonophysics is the study of the physics behind the tectonic processes that geologists observe.

Tectonic studies have application to lunar and planetary studies, whether or not those bodies have active tectonic plate systems.

Since the 1960s, plate tectonics has become by far the dominant theory to explain the origin and forces responsible for the tectonic features of the continents and ocean basins.

There are three main types of tectonics:

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References

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Bibliography

  • Edward A. Keller (2001) Active Tectonics: Earthquakes, Uplift, and Landscape Prentice Hall; 2nd edition, ISBN 0-13-088230-5
  • Stanley A. Schumm, Jean F. Dumont and John M. Holbrook (2002) Active Tectonics and Alluvial Rivers, Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition, ISBN 0-521-89058-6
  • B.A. van der Pluijm and S. Marshak (2004). Earth Structure - An Introduction to Structural Geology and Tectonics. 2nd edition [1]. New York: W.W. Norton. pp. 656. ISBN 0-393-92467-X. 

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