MapMaker: Tectonic Plates

MapMaker: Tectonic Plates

Earth’s lithosphere is made up of a series of plates that “float” on the mantle. Explore them with MapMaker, National Geographic's classroom interactive mapping tool.


9 - 12


Earth Science, Geology, Geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Physical Geography

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Two hundred and eighty million years ago, our planet looked different from what we are accustomed to today. Continents were connected together and formed one mega continent called Pangea. Since then much has changed, and much of this can be attributed to the movement of tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are responsible for many familiar geological structures, such as mountains and volcanoes as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

Mapping tectonic plates is important so that experts can predict the regions where these natural disasters might strike. This helps communities be more prepared and mitigate the damage when tsunamis or earthquakes occur. Knowing the locations of the plates also helps researchers see how our planet has changed over time, and measure how it is currently changing.

Use this map to learn more about where these tectonic plates are located and what effects it may have had or may have in the future on your community.

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Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

April 30, 2024

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