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Mantle Convection Moving Plates
This demonstration models the manner in which the convection currents in the mantle of the Earth cause movement of the plates. Convection currents in the mantle were thought, for many years, to be solely responsible for plate tectonic movements, with the movement taking rocks down at destructive margins and new rocks forming when plates spread. It is now thought likely that there are three possible driving mechanisms for plate tectonics. In addition to movement of mantle convection currents as shown in this demonstration, scientists also consider the mass of the subducted plate (the sinking slab) at the subduction zone dragging the surface part of the plate across the surface and the new plate material sliding off the higher oceanic ridges at constructive margins.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Presentation / Demo
  • Geological Sciences:
    • Structural geology
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright is waived for original material published on this site if the material is required for use within the laboratory or classroom. The copyright of material reproduced by permission of other publishers rests with the originating publisher.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-006-582
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 5-8:
      • B - Physical science:
        • Motion and forces
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Structure of the earth system
    • 9-12:
      • B - Physical science:
        • Interactions of energy and matter
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Energy in the earth system
        • Origin and evolution of the earth system
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: Joint Earth Science Education Initiative (JESEI)