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One of the seven major plates moving about on the earth's surface. The Pacific Plate is an oceanic plate and covers about 20% of the earth's surface. It is moving northwest at a rate of about 2 cm/year.

Boardering the southeastern side of the Pacific plate is the East Pacific Rise located in the center of the Pacific Ocean. It is a spreading center which causes the plate to move toward the northwest.

The northeastern margin (near California) of the Pacific Plate is experiencing shearing forces as the North American plate rubs against it. This creates a good deal of earthquake activity in western North America.

Towards the north and western ends, the Pacific Plate is being subducted by the North American Plate, the Eurasian Plate, the Phillippine Sea plate and the Indian-Australian plate. Subduction along the western boundaries creates the deep-sea trenches and volcanic islands that occur in these areas.

For more information on this subject, see plate tectonics.