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tectonic plate

 
pronunciation:
tek ta nihk pleIt
part of speech: noun
definition: one of the plate-like segments of the Earth's crust and upper mantle. The plates form the outer shell of the planet, and they are actually moving very slowly. Where the plates come into contact with each other, their movement can cause or play a part in the eruption of volcanoes, the building of mountains, and the occurrence of earthquakes.