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Name: Christianna
Status: Student
Grade: 9-12
Location: CA
Country: United States
Date: January 2007


Question:
When two tectonic plates collide, does the size of the plate determine the size of the mountain formation?



Replies:
Christianna,

The tallest mountains in the world are in the Himalayans, the tallest is of course Mount Everest. This mountain range lies on the border of the Indian plate, the Eurasian plate and the Arabian plate. While the Eurasian plate is quite large, the other two are quite small.

http://www.ofspiritandsoul.com/images/vortices/tectonic-plates.jpg

http://maps.esri.com/srmap/applet/srmap.html

The first link shows a good picture of all of the plate boundaries and the second link is a Java Applet of a world relief map--it will show you where all of the mountain ranges are in the world and you can zoom up on them. Comparing these two maps will give you a better understanding of the mountain ranges that have formed compared to where the plate boundaries are. I cannot answer you question with any certainty, but I would think that the mountain ranges that have formed are based more on momentum of the plates (mass multiplied by velocity) instead of just overall size. If you track down how fast the plates are moving and in which direction, you can probably form a much better theory as to what the primary factor is in mountain formation.

Matt Voss



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