Mantle Convection Moving Plates

This demonstration models the manner in which the convection currents in the mantle of the Earth cause movement of the plates. Convection currents in the mantle were thought, for many years, to be solely responsible for plate tectonic movements, with the movement taking rocks down at destructive margins and new rocks forming when plates spread. It is now thought likely that there are three possible driving mechanisms for plate tectonics. In addition to movement of mantle convection currents as shown in this demonstration, scientists also consider the mass of the subducted plate (the sinking slab) at the subduction zone dragging the surface part of the plate across the surface and the new plate material sliding off the higher oceanic ridges at constructive margins.

This description of a site outside SERC has not been vetted by SERC staff and may be incomplete or incorrect. If you have information we can use to flesh out or correct this record let us know.

This resource originally cataloged at:


Subject: Geoscience:Geology:Structural Geology
Grade Level: High School (9-12), Middle (6-8)
Topics: Solid Earth:Structural Geology