Cocos Plate

From Academic Kids

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Tectonic_plates.png
A schematic map locates the Cocos Plate (gray-blue) off the Pacific coast of Central America.

The Cocos Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate beneath the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Central America. The Cocos Plate is created by sea floor spreading along the East Pacific Rise, specifically in a complicated area geologists call the Cocos-Nazca spreading system. From the rise the plate is pushed eastward and pushed or dragged (perhaps both) under the less dense overriding Caribbean Plate in the process called subduction. The subducted leading edge heats up and adds its water to the mantle above it. In the mantle layer called the asthenosphere, mantle rock melts to make magma. As a result, to the northeast of the subducting edge is the continuous arc of volcanos stretching from Costa Rica to Guatemala and a belt of earthquakes that extends farther north, into Mexico.

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Cocos-Caribbean.jpg
Detail of the Cocos and Caribbean plates

The northeastern and eastern sides are convergent boundaries subducting under the North American Plate, the Caribbean Plate, and the South American Plate. The Cocos Plate is bounded by divergent boundaries to the south with the Nazca Plate and to the west with the Pacific Plate.

The Cocos and Nazca Plates are the remnants of the former Farallon Plate, which broke up about 23 million years ago. The boundary between the plates is marked by a hotspot under the Galapagos Islands

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