The Physical Environment

The Earth’s Materials and Internal Processes

How many tectonic plates are there?

There are a dozen significant plates on the planet. Some of the largest include the Eurasian Plate, North American Plate, South American Plate, African Plate, Indo-Australian Plate, Pacific Plate, and Antarctic Plate. Some smaller plates are located between the major plates. The smaller plates include the Arabian Plate (containing the Arabian Peninsula), the Nazca Plate (located to the west of South America), the Philippine Plate (located southeast of Japan, containing the northern Philippine islands), the Cocos Plate (located southwest of Central America), and the Juan de Fuca Plate (just off the coast of Oregon, Washington, and Northern California).

Earth’s tectonic plates are in constant motion, causing geologic fault lines like this one, formed in a strata of volcanic ash that was cut open during road construction.

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