about / contact / guestbook / maillist / policy / sitemap / shop / learn on the internet
You are here: home > geotopics > plate tectonics > destructive

Structure of the earth menu
Structure of the earth
Continental Drift and Plate tectonics
Plate boundaries


Destructive Plate Margins Constructive Plate Margins

Pacific Ring of Fire

Fold Mountains

Related Topics:


[image - cross section of the earth]
A cross section of the earth

Destructive Plate Margins

Online Activities
[Online activities]: n Activities related to this topic
Volcanoes - Fling the teacher game
Tectonics Grade or No Grade Game
This activity is provided by our sister site www.interactivegeography.co.uk and will pop up in a new window
[Podcast]: n Audio file for playback on mobile devices and personal computers


A destructive plate boundary happens where an oceanic and continental plate move towards each other. The heavier, more dense oceanic plate is forced under the continental plate. As it sinks below the continental plate the oceanic plate melts due to friction in the subduction zone. The crust becomes molten called magma. This may be forced to the surface of the earth causing a volcanic eruption.

destructive plate margin

figure 1. Cross section of a destructive plate margin (source: Wikipedia)

The movement of the oceanic plate is not smooth. Due to friction the plate gets stuck. Pressure then builds up. The plate will eventually slip sometimes causing an earthquake.

The continental plate is crumpled by the pressure and forms fold mountains.


Destructive plate margins occur where an oceanic and continental plate move towards each other. Examples below include the Pacific Plate and Eurasian Plate and the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate.

Internet Geography © 2012