Plate tectonics is relatively new, put forth in the last 30 years or so — its forerunner was the now-discarded continental drift theory. The theory states that Earth's outer shell is made up of huge slabs of rock called plates that glide over the planet's inner layer, or mantle. As these plates shift, they sometimes collide with other plates, making for some interesting, and even deadly, results on Earth's surface, from erupting volcanoes, to earthquakes, to new mountain ranges. Here's a look at Live Science's news and features related to this constantly moving jigsaw puzzle.
In the 20th century, researchers realized that the Earth's crust is not one piece, but is made up of many huge tectonic plates upon which the continents ride.
The world's fastest moving fault lies beneath New Zealand, and has taken a dramatic U-turn over the last 65 million years, new research suggests.
Plate tectonics may have already been operating when Earth was just a baby, a chemical analysis of 3.5-billion-year-old diamonds reveals.
The San Andreas and Garlock faults, as well as other well-known and confounding faults around the world, may in fact be "zipper" faults, new research suggests.
At least some of the plates squished beneath the ocean floor are stretchier than previously thought, which could force geologists to rethink a process known as flat-slab subduction.
A giant superchain of volcanoes in Australia may be the largest string of continental volcanoes on Earth, new research suggests.
Earth's magnetic field, which protects the planet from harmful blasts of solar radiation, is much older than scientists had previously thought, researchers say.
The incredible energy unleashed by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25 moved Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak, more than an inch to the southwest.
Two super-fast conveyor belts of sinking crust explain why India set a continental speed record as it crashed into Eurasia.
The rise and fall of sea level during the past million years matches up with valleys and ridges on the seafloor, suggesting a link between underwater eruptions and ice ages, two new studies find.