What do you see at a continent-continent convergent plate boundary?
Big mountains! The best place to see two continental plates converging is in the Himalayas. These mountains are the highest above sea level on Earth. They are very popular with mountain climbers.
Another type of convergent plate boundary is when two continental plates collide. Continental lithosphere is low in density and very thick. Continental lithosphere cannot subduct. So when two continental plates collide, they just smash together. This is just like what happens if you put your hands on two sides of a sheet of paper and bring your hands together. The material has nowhere to go but up (Figure below)! Earthquakes and metamorphic rocks result from the tremendous forces of the collision. But the crust is too thick for magma to get through. As a result, there are no volcanoes at continent-continent collision zones.
When two plates of continental crust collide, the material pushes upward. This forms a high mountain range. The remnants of subducted oceanic crust remain beneath the continental convergence zone.
Continent-continent convergence creates some of the world’s largest mountains ranges. The Himalayas (Figure below) are the world's tallest mountains. They form as two continents collide. The Appalachian Mountains are the remnants of a larger mountain range. This range formed from continent-continent collisions in the time of Pangaea.
The Karakoram Range is part of the Himalayas. K2, pictured here, is over 20,000 feet high. The number of mountains this tall in the Himalayas is impressive.
Supercontinent Cycle and Pangaea
- Continental crust is too buoyant to subduct.
- When two continental plates converge, they smash together and create mountains.
- The amazing Himalaya Mountains are the result of this type of convergent plate boundary.
- The Appalachian Mountains resulted from ancient convergence when Pangaea came together.
- Compare and contrast these two types of convergent plate boundaries: (1) continent-continent, and (2) ocean-continent.
- What causes mountain ranges to rise at convergent plate boundaries?
- How did the Appalachian Mountains form?
Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.
- What two types of plates come together at continent-continent convergent plate boundaries?
- Which plate sinks into the mantle? What is the result of this?
- What are two examples of this type of plate boundary?
- At what type of plate boundary are the highest peaks on Earth located?
- Where is the continental crust thickest on Earth?