Topic 1: Plate Tectonics

America and Eurasia ‘to meet at north pole’

The Evidence for Plate Tectonics.

Plate tectonics is a relatively new theory that only became widely accepted in late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
By understanding the evidence for the theory you will be able to better understand the effect that Plate Tectonics has on the earth.

1) The Location of Volcanoes and Earthquakes

The Nyiragongo lava lake near the Congo/Rwanda Border


We hear a lot about Volcanic eruptions and Earthqukes. Our focus here is to look at where they occur and to see if there is any pattern to be found.

Task 1: Earthquakes

Use this live earthquake map and the map below to describe the location of the earthquakes that have occurred in the last 30 days.


Task 2: Volcanoes

Using the map below, describe the location of active volcanoes around the world. Is it the same as for the earthquakes?


Task 3: Fold mountains

Can you name the fold mountains labelled A-H on the map? Click on the map for the answers.
Is there location similar to that of the earthquakes and volcanoes?

Earth_relief_map with fold mountains.jpg
The major fold mountain belts of the world

Task 4: How earthquakes, volcanoes and fold mountains are linked to plate boundaries.


Past paper exam questions:

1) Name one area of the world where earthquakes occur.[1]

2) Explain why earthquakes occur on or close to plate boundaries. [3]

3) Study Fig. 5, which shows the Earths tectonic plates and plate margins and Fig. 6, which shows the world distribution of active volcanoes.

blank plates map.png

blank volcano.png

(a) Using arrows, as shown below, label on Fig. 5 a plate margin where:

(i) plates are moving away from each other;(ii) plates are moving towards each other . [2]

(b) Which two of the following statements about active volcanoes are correct? [2]


  • They are mostly found in the centres of plates
  • They are mostly found at plate margins
  • They are found at every plate margin
  • They may be found in the centres of plates
  • They are only found at plate margins