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Juan de Fuca Subduction,
Juan de Fuca Ridge, Cascade Range

The boundary between the Pacific and Juan de Fuca Plates is marked by a broad submarine mountain chain about 500 kilometers long (300 miles), known as the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Young volcanoes, lava flows, and hot springs were discovered in a broad valley less than 8 kilometers wide (5 miles) along the crest of the ridge in the 1970s. The ocean floor is spreading apart and forming new ocean crust along this valley or "rift" as hot magma from the Earth's interior is injected into the ridge and erupted at its top.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Juan de Fuca Plate plunges beneath the North American Plate. As the denser plate of oceanic crust is forced deep into the Earth's interior beneath the continental plate, a process known as "subduction", it encounters high temperatures and pressures that partially melt solid rock. Some of this newly formed magma rises toward the Earth's surface to erupt, forming a chain of volcanoes above the subduction zone.

-- Modified from Brantley, 1994, Volcanoes of the United States, U.S. Geological Survey General Interest Publication 376-846. Graphic by Lyn Topinka, 1999.

Map, Juan De Fuca Subduction

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01/02/03, Lyn Topinka