The earths plates are constantly moving as new crust segments are being constantly created and destroyed. This is the cause for many volcanic and earthquake events. Although most of the earths crust only moves 1-10 cm per year, these massive plates still have the power to trigger catastrophic events. The ultimate mover of the plates is the activity from the earth’s core.
The reason that the Earth’s lithosphere is constantly moving is through something called plate tectonics. Each continental plate sits atop the liquid hot magma that makes up the Earth’s mantle. As the magma continues to boil and circulate through something called convection, it creates tiny waves which move the enormous plates that make up the crust. It is essentially the same process that happens when you put something on the ocean’s surface; the water will and waves will move it. That is what happens with the Earth’s plates. they are just constantly colliding with one another which creates faults and the edges of each plate.
The idea that the plates sit on top of liquid magma is wrong. Convection is nothing remotely like waves on the ocean surface. The process all occurs within completely solid rocks; the movement is a result of miniscule, very slow “flow” because of density and viscosity differences in the materials of the various layers.
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