North American Plate: Tectonic Boundary Map and Movements

North American Plate Tectonics

Like seams of a baseball, tectonic plates wrap around Earth. The 2nd largest plate on Earth is the North American Plate. Each plate moves deceptively slow. For example, the North American shifts just centimeters every year.

Earth’s tectonic plate boundaries are strange because they often contain both continental and oceanic crust.

For example, the North American major plate not only contains the continent of North America but also part of the Atlantic Ocean.

The North American plate extends all the way over the North pole and even contains Siberia and the northern island of Japan. It also includes Greenland, Cuba and the Bahamas.

North American Plate Movement

North American Plate Tectonic Boundary

The east-side of the North American Plate straddles the Eurasian Plate and African Plate. This is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where divergent tectonic plates pull apart from each other. In turn, we find some of the youngest geologic rocks at this mid-oceanic ridges.

The Farallon Plate was an ancient oceanic plate which sunk down subducting below California. In Oregon and Washington, there’s still a small piece of it that exists which is now called the Juan de Fuca plate.

During the time of Pangaea, the Farallon plate was largely responsible for pulling North America westward away from Europe and Africa.

The interior of the North American plate contains a giant granitic craton. It’s believed that the North American (Laurentian) craton is 4 billion years old. The total size of this plate is 75,900,000 km2 making it the second largest of the 7 major tectonic boundaries on Earth.

Pick your major tectonic plate

plate tectonics map

If you live in Canada, United States or Mexico, you’d most likely be situated on the North American major plate. But what are some of the other major plates in the world? Read some of the articles below to familiarize with the geography of plate tectonics.

  • 7 Major Tectonic Plates: The World’s Largest Plate Tectonics
    From large to small, the 7 major tectonic plates include the Pacific, North American, Eurasian, African, Antarctic, Indo-Australian and South American plate.
  • Plate Tectonics Types: Divergent, Convergent and Transform Plates
    Earth has 12 major tectonic plate boundaries (with smaller micro plates). They interact by either diverging, converging or sliding across from each other.
  • Pacific Ring Of Fire: Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics
    The Pacific Ring of Fire has the most active chains of volcanoes in the world. This is because tectonic plates collide and sink at these zones of subduction.
  • Master our moving planet

    How plate tectonics shape the Earth

    Plate Tectonics

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