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Plate Tectonics

Scale And Number Of Plates

Estimates of the number of plates differ, but most geologists recognize at least fifteen and some as many as twenty. These plates have many different shapes and sizes. Some, such as the Juan de Fuca plate off the west coast of Washington State, have surface areas of a few thousand square miles. The largest, the Pacific plate, underlies most of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of hundreds of thousands of square miles. In the distant geologic past, Earth's lithosphere perhaps consisted of many more of these smaller plates, rather than the comparatively few, larger plates now present.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Planck mass to PositPlate Tectonics - Continental Drift Versus Plate Tectonics, An Overview Of Tectonic Theory, Proofs Of Tectonic Theory, Rates Of Plate Movement