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Tectonic plate activity off the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia

Illustration of tectonic plate activity off the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia

Illustration of tectonic plate activity off the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia.

Just off Kamchatka Peninsula, which curves down from the Russian mainland, the Pacific Plate plunges under the North American Plate, giving rise to dozens of active volcanoes. In this illustration, Kamchatka and the North American Plate have been made transparent to show where the Pacific Plate has torn, allowing the underlying mantle to erode the plate's edges. The tear may account for the presence of adakites--bits of hardened lava that contain plate material--in the region's volcanism.

Jonathan Lees, an associate professor of geological sciences, has been studying the area and its surrounding volcanoes for years, setting up an array of seismic instruments on Kamchatka.

This work was supported by National Science Foundation grants EAR 96-14639, "Side Edge of Kamchatka Slab" [6/1/97-7/31/00], and EAR 94-18990, "Supplement to Collaborative Research: RUI-- Paleogene Collision and Obduction of the Far-Traveled Olyutorsky Island Arc, Northern Kamchatka, Russian Far East" [7/1/96-6/30/07]. [Image 2 of 2 related images. See Image 1.]

Credit: Illustration by Jason Smith; source: Jonathan Lees 2001, Endeavors magazine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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