Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids – 5 Terrific Facts about Tectonic plates

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Thanks to the tectonic plates we now have lots of continents that we live on. Let’s discover more and more terrific tectonic plates facts for kids.

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids Fact Number 1: Tectonic Plates Are Like a Jigsaw Puzzle Under The Earth

Tectonic plates are pieces of land that connect together on the Earth’s outer shell. The part of the land that is moving is the Earth’s surface called the lithosphere. The lithosphere is made up of the Earth’s crust and a part of the upper mantle.

These plates sit on top of the mantle of the Earth, and they slowly move around on this melted layer. Tectonic plates are nearly 100 km thick. There are two main types of tectonic plates, which are oceanic and continental. The oceanic plates lie underneath the ocean floor and the continental plates lie below the ground we walk on.

Oceanic plates consist of an oceanic crust called “sima”, which is made up of silicon and magnesium. Continental plates consist of a continental crust called “sial”, which is made up of silicon and aluminium.

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids
Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids: Plate tectonics and landforms

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids Fact Number 2: There Are Three Different Types of Movement

Tectonic plates can move in three different ways. When tectonic plates pull apart from each other they are called divergent boundaries. These types of movements cause rifts, which can form lakes or valleys.

When plates push against each other they are known as convergent boundaries. Mountains are created from these movements. Mount Everest was formed by the convergent boundary of the Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate.

A transform boundary is when plates slide past each other and do not collide or tear apart. The San Andreas Fault in California is a transform boundary, where the Pacific and North-American plates move alongside each other.

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids Fact Number 3: There Are Seven Main Tectonic Plates

The seven major plates are the African, Antarctic, Eurasian, North American, South American, India-Australian, and the Pacific plates. There are also smaller and more minor plates including the Arabian, Caribbean, Nazca, and Scotia plates.

Juan de Fuca Plate is the smallest tectonic plate on Earth. 250 million years ago all the continents were joined together and they made up one big continent called Pangaea. “Pangea” is a Greek word meaning “all the earth.“

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids LearningMole
World Map Showing Tectonic Plates Boundaries

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids Fact Number 4: The Ring of Fire Is Where The Big Tectonic Plates Meet and Push Against Each Other

Volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis usually happen in a certain area of the Earth, called “The Ring of Fire”. The Ring of Fire is a circle of volcanoes that is located along the Pacific Ocean. This area of the Earth has over 75% of the world’s volcanoes and over 80% of the world’s earthquakes.

Volcanoes are formed when tectonic plates collide with and slide underneath lighter tectonic plates. A tsunami occurs when the tectonic plates suddenly move underneath the water. Tsunamis are earthquakes in the ocean.

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids Fact Number 5: Continental Drift Is The Movement of Tectonic Plates

Alfred Wegener developed the Continental Drift Theory  in 1912, which explained how continents were formed from Pangaea. The theory said that parts of the Earth’s crust move slowly on top of a liquid mantle. In a very slow movement the lithosphere was broken up.

These broken pieces of the Earth’s crust became known tectonic plates. This movement happens over millions of years, and it’s called continental drift. It is said that the Earth only moves about 15 cm a year.

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids LearningMole
Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids: The layers of the earth

We hope you enjoyed learning more things about tectonic plates as much as we loved teaching you about them. Now that you know how majestic these tectonic plates are, you can move on to learn about other climate and weather stuff like: Thunder, Thunderstorms, Thunder and Lightning, Rainbows, Lightning, Floods, Earth’s Atmosphere, Hurricanes, Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Blizzard, Wind and Tsunamis.

Tectonic Plates Facts for Kids

You can also check our articles about geography like: Australia, United States, Italy, Giant’s Causeway, Day of the Dead in Mexico, Festivals in Mexico, 8 Amazing Places to Visit in Egypt, Egypt, Festivals in India, Beaches, Oceans, Rocks, Rivers, Mountains, Trees and 1 Interesting Fact about Every Country in Asia.

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