The World: The Earthquake: A Battle of Plates

Even as Guatemala was struggling to recover from its awesome earthquake, geophysicists were trying to determine its cause. Their explanation: a battle between the gigantic plates that make up the lithosphere, or crust of the earth (TIME cover, Sept. 1).

Geophysicists theorize that these plates move like rafts on the partially molten material that surrounds the earth's liquid core. Most earthquakes take place where the plates meet and either slide past or dive beneath or ride up over each other. The majority of quakes—and volcanic eruptions—in Central America are caused by the movement...

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