List of tectonic plate interactions

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Three types of plate boundary
Divergent boundary
Convergent boundary
Transform boundary

Tectonic plate interactions are classified into three basic types:[1]

  • Divergent boundaries are areas where plates move away from each other, forming either mid-ocean ridges or rift valleys. These are also known as constructive boundaries.
  • 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.[citation needed]
    • Orogenic belts occur where two continental plates collide and push upwards to form large mountain ranges. These are also known as collision boundaries.
  • Transform boundaries occur when two plates grind past each other with only limited convergent or divergent activity.

Divergent boundaries[edit]

Plate tectonics map

Convergent boundaries (subduction zones)[edit]

Orogenic belts[edit]

Transform boundaries[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tectonic Plates and Plate Boundaries". GNS Science. Retrieved 2014-09-12.