National Geographic Daily News

Persian Gulf Plate Activity

Photograph by Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

In the Persian Gulf, two tectonic plates collide. The Arabian plate (lower left) is running up on the Eurasian plate (upper right). The Persian Gulf (top) and the Gulf of Oman (bottom) were once the site of a rift, a place where two plates pull apart from each other, and the Indian Ocean filled in the widening gap between the two plates. However, the process then reversed, and about 20 million years ago, the gulf began to close up. The collision of the two continental plates gives Iran its mountainous terrain.

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