An investigation was made of spreading ridges and the development of structures that link ridge segments using an analogy between ridges and cracks in elastic plates. The ridge-propagation force and a path factor that controls propagation direction were calculated for echelon ridge segments propagating toward each other. The ridge-propagation force increases as ridge ends approach but then declines sharply as the ends pass, so ridge segments may overlap somewhat. The sign of the path factor changes as ridge ends approach and pass, so the overlapping ridge ends may diverge and then converge following a hook-shaped path. The magnitudes of shear stresses in the plane of the plate and orientations of maximum shear planes between adjacent ridge segments were calculated to study transform faulting. For different loading conditions simulating ridge push, plate pull, and ridge suction, a zone of intense mechanical interaction between adjacent ridge ends in which stresses are concentrated was identified. The magnitudes of mean stresses in the plane of the plate and orientations of principal stress planes were also calculated.