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Tectonic plate interactions are of three different basic types:

  • Divergent boundaries are areas where plates move away from each other, forming either mid-oceanic ridges or rift valleys.
  • Convergent boundaries are areas where plates move toward each other and collide. These are also known as compressional or destructive boundaries.
    • Subduction zones occur where an oceanic plate meets a continental plate and is pushed underneath it. Subduction zones are marked by oceanic trenches. The descending end of the oceanic plate melts and creates pressure in the mantle, causing volcanoes to form.
    • Obduction occurs when the continental plate is pushed under the oceanic plate, but this is unusual as the relative densities of the tectonic plates favours subduction of the oceanic plate. This causes the oceanic plate to buckle and usually results in a new mid ocean ridge forming and turning the obduction into subduction
    • Orogenic belts occur where two continental plates collide and push upwards to form large mountain ranges.
  • Transform boundaries occur when two plates grind past each other with only limited convergent or divergent activity.

Contents

Divergent boundaries

Subduction zones

Orogenic belts

Transform boundaries

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