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.