Dictionary:Plate tectonics

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A concept that envisions the Earth’s crust divided into various more-or-less rigid plates (Figure P-4) that move slowly with respect to each other, being carried along by slow convection currents in the asthenosphere. Along major rifts (such as midocean ridges) the plates are separating and new crust is being created. Elsewhere plates are overriding one another (at subduction zones) or sliding by one another along transform faults (q.v., as along the San Andreas fault). See also Benioff-Wadati zone, and Figure P-5.