Earth's Shifting Tectonic Plates

Earth's Shifting Tectonic Plates

A gallery of map illustrations showing the positions of tectonic plates in the geologic past.

Grades

5 - 12+

Subjects

Earth Science, Geography, Geology, Physical Geography

Tectonic plates, the massive slabs of Earth’s lithosphere that help define our continents and ocean, are constantly on the move. Plate tectonics is driven by a variety of forces: dynamic movement in the mantle, dense oceanic crust interacting with the ductile asthenosphere, even the rotation of the planet. Geologists studying the Earth use scientific observation and evidence to construct a picture of what the Earth looked like at different periods in the geologic past. Use this map gallery to better understand how plate tectonics created the ocean and continents we are familiar with today.

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Editor
National Geographic Society
Producers
National Geographic Society
Sean P. O'Connor, BioBlitz Education Consultant
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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