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subduction zone,large-scaled narrow region in the earth's crust where, according to plate tectonicsplate tectonics,
theory that unifies many of the features and characteristics of continental drift and seafloor spreading into a coherent model and has revolutionized geologists' understanding of continents, ocean basins, mountains, and earth history.
..... Click the link for more information. , masses of the spreading oceanic lithosphere bend downward into the earth along the leading edges of converging lithospheric plates where it slowly melts at about 400 mi (640 km) deep and becomes reabsorbed. Subduction zones are usually marked by deep ocean trenches that often exceed 6 mi (10 km) compared to the ocean's overall depth of 2 to 4 mi (3 to 5 km). A pattern of earthquakes of shallow, intermediate, and deep focus occurs along the same angle as the descending plate, which is steeply inclined (30°–60°) toward the continent behind the trench in a zone called the Benioff Zone, discovered by the U.S. seismologist Hugo Benioff. This earthquake pattern enables geophysicists to trace the descending plate to depths of 600 to 700 km (370–440 mi), where temperatures are thought to be between 1,000°C; and 2,000°C; (1,800°–3,600°F;). As the oceanic plate descends, friction between the two plates probably causes partial melting of the descending plate forming a magma of andesitic composition that rises along fractures. If the overlying crustal plate is oceanic, the magma may erupt to form volcanic island arcs, such as Japan or the Aleutians. If the overlying plate is continental, a line of batholiths and volcanoes may be created as in the Coast Ranges of Canada and the W United States. See continentcontinent,
largest unit of landmasses on the earth. The continents include Eurasia (conventionally regarded as two continents, Europe and Asia), Africa, North America, South America, Australia, and Antarctica.
..... Click the link for more information. ; continental driftcontinental drift,
geological theory that the relative positions of the continents on the earth's surface have changed considerably through geologic time. Though first proposed by American geologist Frank Bursley Taylor in a lecture in 1908, the first detailed theory of
..... Click the link for more information. ; seafloor spreadingseafloor spreading,
theory of lithospheric evolution that holds that the ocean floors are spreading outward from vast underwater ridges. First proposed in the early 1960s by the American geologist Harry H.
..... Click the link for more information. .