Nazca Plate

The Nazca Plate is a small oceanic plate off the coast of South America. It has five triple junctions where three different plates come together. It also produced the largest earthquake ever recorded by seismographs.

Nazca Plate surrounded by other tectonic plates, USGS

Tectonic Plates in southern Pacific Ocean, USGS

Formation Andes Mountains
The Andes Mountains have formed on the continental side of the subduction zone that lies between Nazca crustal plate and the South American Plate. The Peru-Chile Trench separates the two plates.

Eastward motion of Nazca crustal plate
The absolute eastward motion of the Nazca crustal plate is one of the fastest of any tectonic plate on Earth. The absolute motion is 3.7 cm/yr east.

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Two large earthquakes recent past
Massive earthquakes have occurred due to the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate.

  • The May 22, 1960 earthquake near Valdivia was 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale.
  • The February 27, 2010 earthquake in the Maule Region of Chile was an 8.8 moment magnitude earthquake.

Bolivia earthquake
Bolivia, which is inland from the subduction zone, experienced a 8.2 earthquake on June 9,1994. The earthquake epicenter was in a remote region of the Amazon forest at a depth of 647 km. This is the largest earthquake ever recorded at the depth of over 300 km and was due to the subduction of the plate.

More Plate Tectonic Links

Thrust Faults These faults occur where large blocks of land can be forced over the top of another block of land at a low angle.

Divergent Boundary These boundaries form the global mid-ocean ridge system which is the largest mountain chain on Earth.

Crustal Plates There are large and small plates that cover the Earth. Subduction zones form where these plates are recycled.

Mid Ocean Ridge The global mid-ocean-ridge system is the longest chain of mountains on Earth and was not discovered until the 20th Century.

Earthquake Epicenter The epicenter of an earthquake is a point on the Earth's surface, not where the earthquake originates.

Nazca Plate This plate converges with the Pacific Plate producing very large earthquakes off the coast of Chile.

Plate Tectonics Find out lots of fascinating facts and interesting trivia on plate tectonics.

Kids Fun Science The links on our home page include information about volcanoes, science activities, plate tectonics, the rock cycle and much more.

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