Types of Plate Motion
The ways that plates interact depend on their relative motion and
whether oceanic or continental crust is at the edge of the lithospheric
plate. Plates move away from, toward, or slide past each other.
Geologists call these divergent, convergent, and transform plate
At a divergent plate boundary lithospheric plates move away from each
other. The mid-Atlantic Ridge, a topographically high area near the
middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is an example of a divergent plate
At a convergent plate boundary, lithospheric plates move toward each
other. The west margin of the South American continent, where the oceanic
Nazca Plate is pushed toward and beneath the continental portion of the
South American Plate, is an example of a convergent plate boundary.
At a transform plate boundary, plates slide past each other. The San
Andreas fault in California is an example of a transform plate boundary,
where the Pacific Plate slides past the North American Plate.