tectonic plate definition

Tectonic plates are those portions of the lithosphere that are located below the surface or the earth's crust of the planet. They are made of rigid material and are located on the asthenosphere, a much deeper and more complex portion of the Earth's mantle. The tectonic plates are embedded against each other and although they are rigid, they are only supported by the union of each other, so their movement is permanent and very evident or clear in some regions of the planet.

In most cases, the movement or displacement of tectonic plates is millimetric and is not felt in the daily life of societies. When these movements become evident for the human being we must speak of phenomena such as earthquakes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. Many times their movement can also put volcanoes into action.

There are two types of tectonic plates on our planet: oceanic and mixed. While the former (which are the most extensive due to the large amount of water that exists on the Earth's surface) are those that underlie the oceans, the mixed ones can combine both oceans and continental surfaces on their surface. The latter are the most numerous since we find many rather small, but in sum of extension the former occupy most of the planetary territory.

For greater efficiency in their study, specialists have given different names to each of the plates approximately at the end of the 20th century. Thus, we can talk about the Antarctic Plate (the largest of all and the one that underlies the south of the planet), the Pacific Plate, the North American Plate, the African Plate, the Australian Plate, the South American Plate, the Eurasian Plate and others. smaller ones that unite the bigger ones to each other.

The permanent movement and displacement of some of these plates can be observed in the relief of the earth's crust. Thus, places with mountain ranges or with higher territories are those that have suffered millions of years ago the collision or overlap of two plates that ended with the appearance of earthly elevations. This is why regions such as the west coast of the American continent or the area of ​​Southeast Asia often face numerous earthquakes, tsunamis and earthquakes caused by the permanent action of the plates that underlie their surface.

Illustrated. Adobe Caribia for ABC