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The mechanically rigid outer layer of the Earth, the lithosphere, is broken into pieces called tectonic plates. These plates are rigid segments that move in relation to one another at one of three types of plate boundaries: Convergent boundaries, at which two plates come together, Divergent boundaries, at which two plates are pulled apart, and Transform boundaries, in which two plates slide past one another laterally. Earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation can occur along these plate boundaries.[60] The tectonic plates ride on top of the asthenosphere, the solid but less-viscous part of the upper mantle that can flow and move along with the plates,[61] and their motion is strongly coupled with convection patterns inside the Earth's mantle. As the tectonic plates migrate across the planet, the ocean floor is subducted under the leading edges of the plates at convergent boundaries. At the same time, the upwelling of mantle material at divergent boundaries creates mid-ocean ridges. The combination of these processes continually recycles the oceanic crust back into the mantle. Due to this recycling, most of the ocean floor is less than 100 myr old in age. The oldest oceanic crust is located in the Western Pacific, and has an estimated age of about 200 myr.[62][63] By comparison, the oldest dated continental crust is 4030 myr.[64] The seven major plates are the Pacific, North American, Eurasian, African, Antarctic, Indo-Australian, and South American. Other notable plates include the Arabian Plate, the Caribbean Plate, the Nazca Plate off the west coast of South America and the Scotia Plate in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The Australian Plate fused with the Indian Plate between 50 and 55 mya. The fastest-moving plates are the oceanic plates, with the Cocos Plate advancing at a rate of 75 mm/year[65] and the Pacific Plate moving 52–69 mm/year. At the other extreme, the slowest-moving plate is the Eurasian Plate, progressing at a typical rate of about 21 mm/year.[66] Surface

Main articles: Landform and Extreme points of Earth

Circle frame.svg
Features of Earth's solid surface shown as percentages of the planet's total surface area Oceanic ridges (22.1%)
Ocean basin floors (29.8%)
Continental mountains (10.3%)
Continental lowlands (18.9%)
Continental shelves and slopes (11.4%)
Continental rise (3.8%)
Volcanic island arcs, trenches, submarine volcanoes, and hills (3.7%) The Earth's terrain varies greatly from place to place. About 70.8%[13] of the surface is covered by water, with much of the continental shelf below sea level. This equates to 361.132 million km2 (139.43 million sq mi).[67] The submerged surface has mountainous features, including a globe-spanning mid-ocean ridge system, as well as undersea volcanoes,[36] oceanic trenches, submarine canyons, oceanic plateaus and abyssal plains. The remaining 29.2% (148.94 million km2, or 57.51 million sq mi) not covered by water consists of mountains, d...

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