Geology and Iceland

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    The theory of Plate Tectonics suggests that the earth is not a solid shell, but is divided into many individual plates which movement occurs. This plates are constantly moving apart, together and past each other creating many interesting geologic features. The following page will briefly examine the types of tectonic boundaries and the volcanic landforms that are located in Iceland.

      How do the plates move?

    The Earth’s interior is still hot. As hot molten material rises to the surface of the Earth, it moves the plates in different directions by process called convection. Let us examine movement by looking at the different types of tectonic boundaries.

      What are the three major tectonic boundaries?

Convergent Boundary

      This boundary is when two tectonic plates move together causing one plate to subsided beneath or collide with each other.

  Location: West Coast of Canada.




Strike-Slip Boundary

    This is when two tectonic plates move past one another horizontally scarping and deforming as they pass.

Location: West Coast of Califoria.


Divergent Boundary

    This is when two tectonic plates move apart, resulting in volcanic material being brought to the surface. This usually occurs in the ocean creating new sea-floor. 

Location: Iceland


Divergent Boundary Video: Please allow 1 minutes for loading. (Dial-up internet connection will take 15 minutes to load)

    Iceland: A Unique Geologic Situation

    Iceland is located on a divergent boundary. It is one of only a few places on the Earth where a divergent boundary can be seen above sea level, why?  As indicated in the definition of a divergent boundary, volcanic material is brought to the surface on such a regular basis that it has formed its own volcanic island. This hot spot of volcanic activity has formed many volcanoes (example: Eldfell Volcano) and caused many earthquakes within the country.

    Currently, the plates (North American and Eurasian plates) are moving apart at a rate of approximately 2 centimeters per year. This means that Canada is moving further away from Europe each year.

The students and staff walking thought the Mid-Ocean ridge. The North American Plate is on the right and the Eurasian Plate on the left.

Animated Gifs: A Science Odyssey: PBS

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