To understand plate tectonics, first we need to identify the plates. Typically along plate boundaries we can see certain geological features, such as mountain ranges or deep-ocean trenches. There is also many earthquakes and volcanoes. Today you will use real data to try to plot the boundaries of the Earth’s plates!

  1. Plot the volcanoes using the given coordinates

2. USGS – United States Geological Survey data (EARTHQUAKES!)

Click on the link below and plot out the earthquakes!

Earthquakes – over 2.5 magnitude in the last 30 days
* Mark each earthquake as close as you can – there are a lot! You can go quickly, I suggest marking these with an ‘X’ 🙂

3. Google Maps

Go to google maps – look for deep-ocean trenches and continental mountain ranges to add to your map.

Figure 1: Click on the Earth logo in the bottom right to see geological features

Look for noticeable differences such as large mountain ranges or dark blue lines in the ocean – these are trenches! You can also try searching the list provided below in google maps/earth – some will work, such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Figure 2: In Earth view, look for visible differences, for example above her see a noticable colour change and darker line along the coast of Central America – this is a deep-ocean trench!

Some to get you started:

Trenches and Ridges: Mariana Trench, Japan Trench, Aleutian trench (Off of Alaska), Kuril-Kamchatka trench (Northwest Pacific near Russia/Japan),  and the Mid-Atlantic ridge

Mountain ranges: Coast Mountains, Rocky mountains, Andes, Himalayas, and The Alps