Astrophysics (Index)About

crustal plates

(sections of the Earth's crust that move)

Crustal plates are sections of the Earth's crust that shift, earthquakes often being the settling of plates that have been stretched or otherwise deformed from shifting in relation to neighboring plates. The mechanism (and the well-accepted theory that it holds true on Earth) is called plate tectonics, and the occurrence of the shifting is called tectonic activity.

The question of whether other worlds (moons, planets, extra-solar planets) experience this activity is of interest, both simply to understand the planet/moon, and because on Earth, plate tectonics appears to be part of the Earth's system that maintains a life-supporting climate, i.e., its presence may be a factor in whether an exoplanet could support life anything like Earth's.

Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
load density
radioactive heating
very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI)