Numerical models are presented that simulate several active tectonic processes. These models include a continent that is thermally and mechanically coupled with viscous mantle flow. The assumption of rigid continents allows use of solid body equations to describe the continents' motion and to calculate their velocities. The starting point is a quasi-steady state model of mantle convection with temperature/ pressure-dependent viscosity. After placing a continent on top of the mantle, the convection pattern changes. The mantle flow subsequently passes through several stages, eventually resembling the mantle structure under present-day continents: (a) Extension tectonics and marginal basins form on boundary of a continent approaching to subduction zone, roll back of subduction takes place in front of moving continent; (b) The continent reaches the subduction zone, the extension regime at the continental edge is replaced by strong compression. The roll back of the subduction zone still continues after closure of the marginal basin and the continent moves towards the upwelling. As a result the ocean becomes non-symmetric and (c) The continent overrides the upwelling and subduction in its classical form stops. The third stage appears only in the upper mantle model with localized upwellings. ?? 2006 The Authors Journal compilation ?? 2006 RAS.