OCEANIC LIFE CYCLE OF TECTONIC PLATES
The resources within this section will foster the exploration of the formation, evolution, and destruction of oceanic lithosphere as an integral part of the plate tectonic cycle as well as the way in which it establishes boundary conditions for Earth’s climate system. Students can learn the ways in which tectonics drive the global cycling of energy and matter that buffers Earth’s environmental conditions and makes Earth’s surface habitable and how oceanic lithosphere cycling produces critical economic resources and governs the occurrence of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes that pose hazards to society.
To date, we have only explored a small fraction of Earth’s oceanic lithosphere and to relatively shallow depths. Student will learn how scientists are trying to answer fundamental questions about our planet’s central rock cycle; how plate tectonics requires scientific ocean drilling of crustal sections that span the life cycle of oceanic lithosphere; and the full spectrum of plate accretion modes, plate boundary types, intraplate volcanic processes, and subduction styles.
Key Words: plate tectonics, plate boundaries, density, earthquakes, tsunamis, topography, seafloor spreading, oceanic crust, ocean currents, ocean sediments, feedback mechanisms.