How Much Do You Know About Tectonic Plates?

By: Gavin Thagard
Estimated Completion Time
4 min
1 GettyImages-172238853 What is it called when continents gradually move across the earth?
Land erosion
Continental change
Continental​ shift
Continental​ drift
The theory of continental drift was developed by analyzing the fossils of plants in Norway. Many of the fossils showed evidence of plants that could only grow in the tropics, which was strange considering Norway was near the Arctic.

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2 Alfred_Wegener_ca.1924-30 Who developed the theory of continental drift?
Charles Darwin
Alfred Wegener
A German researcher, Alfred Wegener dedicated his life to studying the polar environment. However, he's most associated with continental drift, a theory that the scientific community rejected until after his death.
James Hutton
William Smith

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3 andes GettyImages-514067938 What do you call two plates running into one another?
Plate pull
Plate tightening
Convergent boundaries
The Andes Mountains in South America were formed from a convergent boundary. Stretching the length of South America, these mountains make up the longest mountain range in the world.
Merging boundaries

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4 magma GettyImages-814725492 What do tectonic plates rest on top of?
Water
Magma
Magma can only be found below the earth's surface. Once magma reaches the surface level, it is known as lava, which is what flows from a volcano​.
Granite
Mercury

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5 lithosphere GettyImages-91285006 What part of the earth are tectonic plates a part of?
Mesosphere
Lithosphere
The lithosphere is thinnest in the ocean, where it runs about 10 miles deep. On continents, the lithosphere is upward of 20 miles deep.
Asthenosphere
Core

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6 GettyImages-96168933 What happens when tectonic plates are pulled further into the earth by gravity?
Subduction
The effects of gravity do not stop at the earth's surface. Instead, gravity pulls everything, including slabs of rock, as far into the earth as they will go.
Gravitational pull
Slab pull
Slab drag

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7 slab pull GettyImages-112708224 What type of movement does subduction cause?
Trench tracking
Plate sinking
Slab pull
Slab pull is believed to be the main cause of tectonic plates shifting. The pull occurs because the dense plate can't hold up on top of the softer mantle beneath.
Mantle breakage

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8 major minor Caribbean_plate_tectonics-en How are plate tectonics divided?
Big/small
Large/tiny
Full/partial
Major/minor
Another group of tectonic plates known as microplates form along the boundaries of larger plates. These plates develop from the spreading of ridges.

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9 tectonic plates GettyImages-96168938 How many major plate tectonics are there?
4
6
7
There are many methods today used to determine the movement of tectonic plates. One of the main methods involves remote sensing satellite​ data.
9

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10 pacific plate What is the only major tectonic plate not named after a continent?
The Pacific Plate
The Pacific Plate is currently shrinking, which means the Pacific Ocean is getting smaller. As it grows smaller, the Atlantic Ocean expands in size.
The Himalayan Plate
The Atlantic Plate
The Nuna Plate

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11 North_American_Plate_map-fr What is the largest tectonic plate named after a continent?
Eurasian Plate
The North American Plate
Obviously, the North American Plate consists of North America, but it also includes Greenland and part of Iceland. According to data, the plate moves a few centimeters per year.
African Plate
South American Plate

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12 SouthAmericanPlate Which of the following is the smallest of the major tectonic plates?
Indo-Australian Plate
African Plate
Eurasian Plate
The South American Plate
The South American Plate extends into the Atlantic Ocean where it meets the African Plate. At the point where the two plates meet, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge forms.

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13 Plaque_de_Nazca Which of these minor tectonic plates is located off the coast of South America?
Arabian Plate
Philippine​ Sea Plate
Caroline Plate
Nazca Plate
The Nazca Plate is considered young compared to other tectonic plates. It formed when the Farallon Plate broke apart nearly 23 million years ago.

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14 SomaliPlate What is the largest of the minor tectonic plates?
Somali Plate
The Somali Plate is moving away from the coast of Africa. As the course of the plate continues, it will break away from Africa after millions of years, forming a new continent.
Cocos Plate
Carribean Plate
Scotia Plate

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15 Earth_seafloor_crust_age_1996_-_2 What is it called when oceanic crust spreads along ridges?
Coral spread
Underwater spread
Seafloor spreading
Seafloor spreading occurs at different paces. Where seafloor spreading is slowest, tall underwater cliffs form.
Ocean spreading

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16 yosemite granite GettyImages-575478003 What type of rock forms when magma comes through the earth's crust where tectonic plates drift apart?
Sedimentary rock
Igneous​ rock
There are hundreds of types of igneous rocks that form from magma. A few of the more common examples include tuff, granite and obsidian.
Metamorphic rock
Clastic rock

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17 asthenosphere Destructive_plate_margin When two tectonic plates converge, where does the heavier plate go?
The stratosphere
The mesosphere
The core
The asthenosphere
Rocks are liquified in the asthenosphere because of built-up​ heat and pressure. Strangely, the core, which is below the asthenosphere, is solid.

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18 hawaii mantle plume GettyImages-89615098 What is rising magma through the earth's mantle called?
Mantle plume
Mantle plumes are a way of cooling off the interior of the earth. Though it's still up for debate, some scientists believe mantle plumes help cool all the way to the core of the earth.
Mantle spring
Mantle hike
Mantle release

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19 transform boundary GettyImages-96168936 Which type of boundary defines two plates that slide past one another?
Divergent boundary
Convergent boundary
Transform​ boundary
Transform boundaries do not slide gracefully past one another. Instead, friction in the rock builds until it eventually gives and breaks apart.
Slip boundary

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20 Normal_Fault_in_Georgia Which type of fault describes the hanging wall moving downward against the footwall?
Reverse fault
Normal fault
Normal faults eventually spread apart forming valleys, known as grabens, inside the fault. Currently, the African Plate is splitting in such a way that it will form many of these grabens.
Transcurrent fault
Strike-slip fault

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21 reverse FaultLineScarp What do you call a hanging wall that rises against the footwall?
Collision fault
Strike-slip fault
Reverse fault
Faults can form visible cliffs or sloops on the earth's surface. In reverse faults, these are seen where two plates collide, pushing the hanging wall upward.
Transform fault

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22 basalt GettyImages-965093726 What type of rock makes up the oceanic crust?
Basalt
Mars contains a shield volcano formed from basaltic lava known as Olympus Mons. It is the largest volcano discovered so far in our solar system.
Limestone
Granite
Marble

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23 sial Precambrian_Granite_St_Francis_Mountains_Missouri What do you call rock composition that makes up the continental crust?
Mantle
Sial
Sial comes from the words "silicate" and "aluminum." The name is derived from these words because they are the most common minerals in the continental crust.
Flint
Sandstone

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24 Magnesium_perchlorate_hexahydrate Which of the following elements is one of the main components of sima?
Lithium
Carbon
Sulfur
Magnesium
Sima is composed of the minerals that make up the oceanic crust. Sima is thinner but denser than continental crust, or sial.

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25 earthquake GettyImages-157418325 Tectonic plates shifting can cause what?
Coral reef
Mangrove
Thunderstorm
Earthquakes
The Valdivia earthquake in 1960 was the largest earthquake ever recorded. When it hit Chile, the earthquake measured at a magnitude of 9.5.

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26 San-Andreas-Spalte What is the name of the fault that separates the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate in California?
San Andreas Fault
The San Andreas Fault is responsible for many of the earthquakes that occur in California. One of the most deadly earthquakes from the San Andreas Fault occurred in 1906 when nearly 3,000 people died.
Independence Valley Fault
Longmen Shan Fault
Motagua Fault

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27 Mariana_trench What is the deepest part of the ocean?
Kermadec Trench
Mariana Trench
The Mariana Trench contains the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the ocean. It is measured at 36,000 feet below sea level.
Puerto Rico Trench
Philippine Trench

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28 Pacific_plate Does the Pacific Plate go over or under the Mariana Plate?
Over
Under
The Mariana Plate is smushed between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Pacific Plate. Scientists believe it formed when the Philippine Sea Plate broke apart from the pressure of the Pacific Plate subducting underneath it.
Neither

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29 mt everest GettyImages-959118778 Which plate was involved in forming Mount Everest?
African Plate
South American Plate
Pacific Plate
The Indian Plate
Mount Everest stands at an elevation of over 29,000 feet. The mountain continues to grow each year by about a quarter of an inch.

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30 ring of fire GettyImages-140189937 Tectonic plates have formed a series of volcanoes around the Pacific Ocean known as what?
The Volcanic Ridge
The Circle of Fire
The Ring of Fire
Around 90 percent of the earthquakes around the world occur in the Ring of Fire. The region also contains nearly 75 percent of the world's volcanoes, making it a deadly home for the inhabitants.
The Ring of Volcanoes

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A tsunami
Japan is an island nation that constantly deals with the threat of facing a tsunami. One tsunami in 2011 caused by the Tohoku earthquake killed over 15,000 people in the country.
A coral reef
An atoll
An island

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32 AustralianPlate Which plate merged with the Indian Plate millions of years ago?
The African Plate
The Eurasian Plate
The Australian Plate
The main reason the Australian Plate has merged with the Indian Plate is that the Indian Plate's progression northward has been halted by the Himalayas. This causes the Indian Plate to move much slower than the Australian Plate, which is pushing up against it.
The Arabian Plate

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33 rift valley lake GettyImages-905176238 What do you call a lake that forms where plates diverge?
Crater lake
Rift lake
The East African Rift is a continental rift located on a divergent plate boundary in Africa. The rift is responsible for forming the Rift Valley Lakes.
Organic lake
Glacial lake

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34 lake baikal GettyImages-155370422 What is the largest freshwater rift lake in the world by volume?
Lake Baikal
Nearly one-fifth of all fresh water in the world is located in Lake Baikal. That water fills the lake to a depth of 1,600 meters.
Lake Victoria
Lake Superior
Lake Michigan​

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35 red sea GettyImages-959826970 Which plate is moving away from the African Plate to form the Red Sea?
The Indian Plate
The Cocos Plate
The Scotia Plate
The Arabian Plate
The Red Sea famously runs into the Suez Canal. The canal connects Europe and the Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea, which leads to Asia.

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36 Pangaea GettyImages-112707208 What is the name of the supercontinent that existed before the plates broke it apart?
Assyria
Babylonia
Pangaea
One of the main sources of evidence for Pangaea's existence are fossils, which are now spread across multiple continents. For example, fossils of the reptile Mesosaurus have been found in both Brazil and West Africa.
Carthage

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37 New_Madrid_and_Wabash_seizmic_zones-USGS_mod What is the name of an earthquake that occurs inside a tectonic plate?
Center earthquake
Intraplate earthquake
The United States' Midwest region contains an intraplate fault known as the New Madrid Fault Line. The fault was responsible for a series of earthquakes in 1811 and 1812.
Pivot earthquake
Core earthquake

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38 tectonism GettyImages-96168941 What do you call the deformation of the lithosphere?
Nanism
Microseism
Tectonism
When it comes to important minerals and natural resources, you won't find a better source than the lithosphere. The lithosphere contains everything from coal to oil to metals.
Katabolism

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39 seismic waves GettyImages-96168943 Which of these terms refers to a vibration that travels through the earth during an earthquake?
Seismic wave
Seismic waves are divided into two main categories. Body waves travel through the interior of the earth, where surface waves only move across the surface of the planet.
Microwaves
Gamma rays
Infrared waves

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40 topography GettyImages-126532930 What is the study of the shape and features of land surfaces?
Botany
Anatomy
Systematics
Topography
One important component studied in topography is elevation. Elevation determines the height of landforms in relation to sea level.

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