|What areas on Earth are at the least risk of a
|Question Date: 2018-05-16|
The outer layer of the Earth is divided into
different parts, called tectonic plates. For
instance, North America and some of the ocean all
the way to the center of the Atlantic ocean is
part of the North American plate. These plates
ride on another layer of the Earth, the
asthenosphere, which is much weaker and
plates to move around because it is so much weaker
than the plates are.
Volcanoes usually form at the edge of plates.
Eruptions can happen where plates move apart, like
in Tanzania. One tectonic plate moving bellow
another can cause volcanic eruptions when plates
move towards each other. Less often, hot blobs of
material from deeper in the Earth can rise, like
in a lava lamp, and hit the middle of a tectonic
plate, which happens in places like
So magma and volcanoes form at the edges of
tectonic plates, and areas in the center aren't in
as much danger.
Underneath the top layer of the earth, the crust,
there are tectonic plates. These plates
under the crust, and that is what moves the
continents. All the action happens along the edges
of the plates -- when plates converge
between two or more plates moving towards each
other), diverge (two plates separate as
away from each other) or slide past each other
(transform boundary). Volcanoes (and earthquakes)
are most common at the edge of tectonic plates,
because there is so much happening. In the middle
of a tectonic plate, which we call intraplate
areas, there is usually minimal volcanic
Examples of intraplate areas include in the middle
of the North American continent, the middle of the
South American continent, and the middle of the
The farther you are from a hotspot or plate
boundary, there is less risk of volcanoes. I am
not aware of any volcanoes on the eastern coast of
the United States, for example, because it is
far from any plate boundary.
Click Here to return to the search form.
Copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.