NORTH AMERICAN PLATE: Tectonic Boundary Map and Movements

The Unique Dynamics and Movement of the North American Plate

North American Plate Tectonics

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2019

The North American Plate Boundary

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.

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