There are a number of competing theories that attempt to explain what drives the movement of tectonic plates. Three of the forces that have been proposed as the main drivers of tectonic plate movement are:
Recent research has shown that the major driving force for most plate movement is slab pull, because the plates with more of their edges being subducted are the faster-moving ones. However ridge push is also presented in recent research to be a force that drives the movement of plates.
The process of ground being subjected to a growing force until it snaps or breaks is explained in a theory called the elastic rebound theory.
Tectonic plates can move relative to each in different ways. This movement gives rise to different types of plate boundaries with different properties and characteristic earthquakes.
Studying the signals from distant earthquakes has allowed scientists to determine the internal structure of the earth.
Earthquakes do not occur randomly on the Earth. The pattern of earthquake locations can be explained by assuming the Earth's surface is made up from rigid plates that are in motion relative to each other.
Using pupils to act as the lithosphere, this activity explains the competing theories of what forces drive the movement of tectonic plates.
If you were at a plate tectonic margin that was very active, what might you see? What might you hear? What might you sense? What might you feel?