VUME Upper Mantle of the Earth

Driving Forces of Plate Motion

The driving forces can be divided in three categories:
- mantle dynamics related driving forces;
- gravity related driving forces (mostly secondary forces);
- Earth rotation related driving forces.
Driving Forces of Plate Motion. A number of forces have been postulated since the dawn of the tectonic theory, including ridge push, slab pull, trench suction, collisional resistance, and basal drag. In the past ten years, many scientists have begun to assume that the boundary and body forces of the plates, rather than the frictional drag produced by mantle convection, are the most dominant group of forces driving plate motions. In the following section, the basic physical properties of each of the main forces believed to be involved in the total net motion of plates will be described and defined.