Tectonic plates


Tectonic plates


Earth science


Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around 100 km (62 mi) thick and consist of two principal types of material: oceanic crust (also called sima from silicon and magnesium) and continental crust (sial from silicon and aluminium). The composition of the two types of crust differs markedly, with mafic basaltic rocks dominating oceanic crust, while continental crust consists principally of lower-density felsic granitic rocks. Geologists generally agree that the following tectonic plates currently exist on the Earth's surface with roughly definable boundaries. Tectonic plates are sometimes subdivided into three fairly arbitrary categories: major plates, minor plates, and micro plates.