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4.3: Three Types of Lithospheric Plate Boundaries

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    • Contributed by Miracosta Oceanography 101
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    Three Types of Lithospheric Plate Boundaries (see Figures 4-4 to 4-6)

    Divergent boundary (where plates are pulled apart by tensional forces)—When plates diverge, spreading centers form creating new oceanic crust. Examples include mid-ocean ridges in world's ocean basins. Spreading centers occur where continents are pulling apart. Examples include the Africa rift zones, Red Sea basin, Iceland, and North America's Great Basin region including the Gulf of California (see discussions below).

    Convergent boundary (where plates are pushed together by compressional forces)—When lithospheric plates collide... mountains belts form - examples include the Himalayas, Alps, and ancient Appalachian Mountains when the ancient continent of Pangaea formed. When continents collide with ocean crust... subduction zones with deep ocean trenches and volcanic arcs form - examples include the Andes Mountains, Aleutian Islands, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, the ancient Sierra Nevada and modern Cascades Range in northern California, Oregon, and Washington.

    Transform boundary (where plates slide past or are rotational)—When plates slide past each other creating fault systems along plate margins. Examples include the San Andreas Fault in California and major faults in Pakistan, Turkey, and along the Jordan River/Dead Sea.