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The margin of a lithospheric plate undergoing tectonic processes of subduction, collision, accretion, or spreading.The west coast boundary of North America is active; the Atlantic edge of the continent is passive.Earth's history, quite literally, is written on the strata of its rocks, and from observing these layers, geologists have been able to form an idea of the various phases in that long history.

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This approach avoids the circularity associated with using fossils to correlate rocks, and then using those correlations to infer biological patterns…” (“Cambrian Explosion: New Timeline for Appearances of Skeletal Animals in Fossil Record,” , Nov.If both plates are continental, mountain forming will occur.Cratons are parts of the Earth's continents which have remained relatively stable and earthquake-free for long periods of time.Historical geology, the study of Earth's physical history, is one of the two principal branches of geology, the other being physical geology, or the study of Earth's physical components and the forces that have shaped them.Among the principal subdisciplines of historical geology is stratigraphy, the study of rock layers, which are called strata or, in the singular form, a stratum.