USGS EarthWord of the Week
EarthWords is an on-going series in which we shed some light on the complicated, often difficult-to-pronounce language of science. Think of us as your terminology tour-guides, and meet us back here every week for a new word!
The EarthWord: Subduction
No, this isn’t how submarines flirt, but it does involve the ocean. Subduction occurs when an oceanic plate runs into a continental plate and slides beneath it.
Subduction comes from the Latin subductionem, which meant “a withdrawal” or “hauling ashore.”
Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:
Subduction is one of the several ways that tectonic plates interact with each other. Since each interaction can produce natural hazards like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and landslides, understanding each type of interaction is important.
Subduction zones, since they involve oceanic plates, are known for earthquakes that produce tsunamis and are often responsible for volcanic ranges too.
USGS studies natural hazards associated with subduction zones as part of our Natural Hazards Mission Area.
The primary subduction zone we study is the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where the Juan de Fuca Plate is sliding beneath the North American Plate. That subduction zone is largely responsible for the Cascade Volcanic Range, as well as significant earthquake and tsunami hazard for the Pacific Northwest.
In addition, USGS studies natural hazard risk at the subduction zone where the Pacific Plate is sliding underneath the North American Plate along the Aleutian Islands and Coastal Alaska.
Next EarthWord: It’s what all these tectonic plates make up...
Hungry for some science, but you don’t have time for a full-course research plate? Then check out USGS Science Snippets, our snack-sized science series that focuses on the fun, weird, and fascinating stories of USGS science.
Get Our News
These items are in the RSS feed format (Really Simple Syndication) based on categories such as topics, locations, and more. You can install and RSS reader browser extension, software, or use a third-party service to receive immediate news updates depending on the feed that you have added. If you click the feed links below, they may look strange because they are simply XML code. An RSS reader can easily read this code and push out a notification to you when something new is posted to our site.