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When continental and oceanic plates collide the thinner and more dense oceanic plate is overridden by the thicker and less dense continental plate. The oceanic plate is forced down into the mantle in a process known as "subduction". As the oceanic plate descends it is forced into higher temperature environments. At a depth of about 100 miles (160 km) materials in the subducting plate begin to approach their melting temperatures and a process of partial melting begins. 
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