Plate movement is the sliding of Earth’s lithosphere (Earth’s outer layer) over the mantle layer. This action results in the formation of Earth’s features, such as mountain ranges and continental drift. Generally, plate movements are influenced by different forces on the Earth’s plates; these forces may be classified as either convergent, divergent, or transform.
Convergent plate movement results from the action of converging forces exerting pressure on the lithosphere and Earth’s crust, thus causing a collision on their boundaries. This, in turn, results in the submersion of one plate beneath the other. When this force is exerted on two continental plates, which brings about the creation of mountain ranges; however, when these forces are exerted on two oceanic crusts, they cause fissures, which allow magma to flow from the mantle, thus forming volcanoes. In addition, these forces may occur between the oceanic plate and continental plate, giving rise to the submersion of the oceanic plate below the continental plate.
Divergent plate movement occurs in oceanic plates when diverging forces influence the seafloor plates to move away from each other. This causes an oceanic crust to form from the Earth’s mantle, mainly as a result of the splitting of the plates.
Transform, or lateral slipping, plate movement occurs during the movement of two plates side by side. Although these plates may face each other, they move in different directions but still remain close to each other. As a consequence, enormous friction is produced, which makes the plates stick and then slip away from each other. During the release of the plates from each other, a sudden Earth tremor occurs, known as an earthquake. Therefore, transform forces are the main causes of Earth tremors or earthquakes.