What driving force of plate movement is likely dominant?

Question:

What driving force of plate movement is likely dominant?

Tectonic Plate Boundaries:

Tectonic plates meet at boundaries that are either divergent, convergent, or transform. At a divergent boundary, the plates are spreading apart. At a transform boundary, they slide past one another. Finally, subduction occurs at a convergent boundary, where one plate is pushed under the other.

Answer and Explanation:

The main forces driving tectonic plate movement are thermal convection from the mantle, the slab pull of gravity from subduction zones, and the ridge push from gravity at spreading zones. Current research shows that slab pull is likely dominant overall, partly because subducting plates tend to move the fastest. This force is strongest partly because pieces of the mantle condense onto the cooling rock, making it heavier, and partly because the subduction itself creates motion in the mantle that helps drag it under. Of course, plates with little or no subduction are primarily moved by other forces.


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Plate Tectonics: Theory & Definition

from General Studies Earth & Space Science: Help & Review

Chapter 7 / Lesson 5
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