South American Plate

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South American Plate
Type Major
Approx. Area 43,600,000 km2[1]
Movement1 west
Speed1 27-34mm/year
Features South America, Atlantic Ocean
1Relative to the African Plate

The South American Plate (Dutch: Zuid-Amerikaanse Plaat, French: Plaque Sud-américaine, Portuguese: Placa Sul-Americana, Spanish: Placa Sudamericana) is a tectonic plate which includes the continent of South America and also a sizeable region of the Atlantic Ocean seabed extending eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The easterly side is a divergent boundary with the African Plate forming the southern part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The southerly side is a complex boundary with the Antarctic Plate and the Scotia Plate. The westerly side is a convergent boundary with the subducting Nazca Plate. The northerly side is a boundary with the Caribbean Plate and the oceanic crust of the North American Plate. At the Chile Triple Junction in Taitato-Tres Montes Peninsula, an oceanic ridge — the Chile Rise — is subducting under the South American plate.

The South American Plate is in motion. "Parts of the plate boundaries consisting of alternations of relatively short transform fault and spreading ridge segments are represented by a boundary following the general trend."[2] Moving westward away from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The eastward-moving and more dense Nazca Plate is subducting under the western edge of the South American Plate along the Pacific coast of the continent at a rate of 77 mm per year.[3] This collision of plates is responsible for lifting the massive Andes Mountains and causing the volcanoes which are strewn throughout them.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Meijer, P.T.; Wortel, M.J.R. (July 30, 1992). "The Dynamics of Motion of the South American Plate". Journal of Geophysical Research 97. 
  3. ^ Pisco, Peru, Earthquake of August 15, 2007: Lifeline Performance. Reston, VA: ASCE, Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering. ISBN 9780784410615.