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sections of Earth's litosphere that is composed of crust and upper mantle (continental and oceanic plates)

plate techtonics

theory that crust and upper mantle move on plastic like layer of the mantle.


ocean crust, continental crust, rigid upper mantle (about 100 km thick)


plastic-like layer beneath the lithosphere

outer core:

liquid, mostly iron

inner core:

solid, dense, mostly iron and some nickel

continental drift

hypothesis that continents moved slowly to their current locations (Alfred Wegener, 1912)


single large land mass made up of all continents connected that broke apart 200 million years ago

seafloor spreading:

theory that magma moving upward spreads seafloor apart at mid ocean

convection current:

cycle of heating, rising, cooling, sinking that makes plates move

subduction zone:

area where one plate sinks below another; most dense plate sinks

convergent boundaries:

area where two plates move towards each other

divergent boundaries:

area where two plates move away from eachother


zone where many volcanos & earthquakes occur


a diverging boundary marked by a rift valley


a crack or break in Earth's crust


block of lithoshere moved thousands of kilometers and attached to the edge of a continent

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