Pacific Plate (Tectonic)

Pacific Plate (Tectonic)

Sun, 12/13/2020 - 17:37

The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate, made up almost entirely of oceanic crust, that lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. At an estimated 40,000,000 sq miles in size, it is Earth's largest tectonic plate.

Pacific Plate

The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate, made up almost entirely of oceanic crust, that lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. At an estimated 103,280,000 sq km (40,000,000 sq mi) in size, it is Earth's largest tectonic plate.

 

Map of the Pacific tectonic plate

Pacific Plate location map

Plate Tectonics

The theory of plate tectonics states that the Earth's solid outer crust is separated into plates that move over the the molten upper portion of the mantle. Convergence occurs when two plates are pushing into each other. Divergence occurs when plates pull away from each other.

The floor of the Pacific Ocean is divided into several plates. The Pacific Plate is the largest and it is moving northwest relative to the North American Plate.

On the surface of the earth, nothing moves along a straight line, instead the plates rotate around a point on the surface. The Pacific Plate rotates around a point south of Australia. Around Hawaii, the plate is moving at about 7 cm/year.

Boundaries in the Americas

Where two plates meet there can be three types of boundaries:

  • transform faults: where the plates slide past each other
  • spreading centers: where two plates are moving away from each other
  • subduction zones: where one plate dives into the earth under another plate

On the northern side of the Pacific Plate, there is a convergent boundary that is subducting under the North American Plate, thereby forming the Aleutian Trench.

In the middle of the eastern side there is a transform boundary with the North American Plate as well as a boundary with the Cocos Plate.

On the southeastern side there is a divergent boundary with the Nazca Plate which has formed the East Pacific Rise.

On the southern side there is a divergent boundary with the Antarctic Plate, thereby forming the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge.

Baja California Peninsula

Movement of the Pacific and North American Plates began pulling the Baja California Peninsula and the western half of Southern California away from mainland Mexico about six million years ago, opening up the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) in the process.

Since then, the tectonic plate has moved some 330 km (200 miles) northwards carrying Baja California and peninsular Southern California with it.

 

Map Of Major Tectonic Plates In The World

Map Of Major Tectonic Plates In The World