Where is the Antarctic Plate?
If you study the geography of most tectonic plate boundaries, they generally consist of both oceanic and continental crust.
Not only does the Antarctic Plate contain the entire continent of the Antarctic, but it includes most of the surrounding ocean. In addition, it borders the South American Plate, Indo-Australian Plate, African Plate, and the Pacific Plate.
“All continents move and they’re never idle. Over time, the Antarctic Plate is moving at a snail’s pace. For example, the Antarctic Plate moves at an average rate of about 1 centimeter per year.”
Was the Antarctic Plate part of Gondwana?
The Antarctic major plate holds the entire continent of Antarctica including its surrounding oceanic crust. This plate shares boundaries with the African, Australian, Pacific, and South American Plate.
If you could rewind time 200 million years in the past, Earth was one giant supercontinent landmass “Pangaea”. Then, it tore apart into two separate pieces Laurasia and Gondwana. This is all part of the supercontinent cycle that Earth has experienced several times in the past.
Antarctica was once grouped as part of the supercontinent Gondwana with Australia and India. But about 100 million years ago, Antarctica broke apart to its current frigid location in the South Pole.
“It’s estimated that the Antarctica major plate moves about 1 cm per year. As for its size, it’s the fifth largest tectonic plate on the planet at about 60,900,000 km2.”
Summary: The Antarctic Plate
The Antarctic Plate is unique as it encompasses not only the landmass of Antarctica but also the surrounding continental shelf and portions of the Southern Ocean.
Its interactions with neighboring tectonic plates play a vital role in the geological history and dynamics of this remote and icy continent.
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1. Jiang, Wei-Ping; E, Dong-Chen; Zhan, Bi-Wei; Liu, You-Wen (2009). “New Model of Antarctic Plate Motion and Its Analysis”. Chinese Journal of Geophysics. 52 (1): 23–32. doi:10.1002/cjg2.1323.