Story: Geological exploration

Plate tectonic model

This clip shows a model of progressive tectonic plates moving.

The concept of plate tectonics revolutionised the study of geology in the 1960s and 1970s, and helped to explain many features of New Zealand in a global setting. It is now known that the boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates runs through New Zealand. The Pacific plate is moving relative to the Australian plate at a rate of about 40 millimetres per year – about the rate that fingernails grow. Over millions of years pressure from the colliding plates has caused uplift of the mountains and the separation of rocks on opposite sides of the Alpine Fault by almost 500 kilometres.

Using this item

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Simon Nathan, 'Geological exploration - Plate tectonics and other advances', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 April 2024)

Story by Simon Nathan, published 12 Jun 2006