The Pacific Plate is the largest tectonic plate ( also lithospheric plate ) of the earth. It forms, with the exception of some marginal areas, the ground almost the entire Pacific Ocean; Experts estimate their size to about 108 million km ². The Pacific plate consists of oceanic, so heavy, basaltic, Erdkrustengestein.
Location and boundaries
The Pacific Plate is bordered (clockwise ) to the North American Plate, the Juan de Fuca plate, the Cocos, the Nazcaplatte, the Antarctic Plate, the Australian Plate and the Philippine Plate. May exist in the transition zones to the large neighboring plates some more smaller plates; their existence has not yet been unequivocally ascertained.
In the course of plate tectonics - is the continuous movement of the plates that make up the lithosphere ( crust and uppermost mantle ) - shifts the Pacific plate at a speed of about 10 cm per year in a northwesterly direction. According to the direction of motion happen at the transition zones with neighboring plates different geological processes. For example, are the plate boundaries in the north- east ( to the North American and Juan de Fuca plate) diverging - so drifting apart. Here is caused by the movement of the plates a rift zone (or grave breach ). A converging - be contractive - plate boundary consists among other things, at the transition to Philippines disk. Here, the Pacific plate is pushed under the Philippines plate ( subduction ), whereby the Mariana Trench has been created. In California, the movement of the Pacific plate transverse to that of the North American, which the San Andreas Fault is formed.
Long stretches of the edge of the Pacific plate belong to the Pacific Ring of Fire, those areas with high tectonic activity, where the majority of all active volcanoes in the world is located.