Tectonic Plates and Earthquakes

The Earth’s surface is made up of large plates which are constantly moving, driven by the internal heat of the planet. At the edges of plates, mountains form, volcanoes erupt and earthquakes fracture the crust, creating ever-changing landscapes.

The Earth’s tectonic plates are 100 to 200 km thick. They consist of the crust and the uppermost part of the mantle (the lithosphere). The plates slide across the more fluid part of the upper mantle (the asthenosphere). Plate boundaries are zones of intense earthquake and volcanic activity.

Photograph of a yellow plastic Tyranasaurus Rex