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7.2.1. Lithospheric plates

Lithospheric plates

The lithosphere is formed by the top of the mantle and the crust oceanic and continental, so that distinguish between oceanic lithosphere and continental lithosphere.

The lithosphere is fragmented into a series of  rigid and stable lithospheric plates that are located on a zone of low speed of seismic waves (formerly asthenosphere), of plastic behavior, which favors their displacement caused by convection currents.

According to the type of crust that compose it, several types of lithospheric plates are distinguished:

  • Oceanic plates, formed solely by oceanic crust, such as the Nazca plate or the Pacific plate.
  • Continental plates, formed exclusively by continental crust, like the Arabian plate.
  • Mixed plates, formed by continental crust and oceanic crust, such as the Euriasian plate, the South American plate and most of the plates.

Placas litosfericas

By English: Traducido por Mario Fuente Cid en Inkscape Free SoftwareEspañol: Traducido porción Mario Fuente Cid en Inkscape Software Libre [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

At the plate edges there are relative movements between the plates. These edges can be of three types:


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Biology and Geology teaching materials for Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) and Baccalaureate students.