Return to AnimationsPlate Tectonics (Modern World)
Spin and Rotate the Virtual Globe
(to spin globe, hold mouse-button down and drag mouse up or down across globe)
(c) PALEOMAP Project, 2003
(Read the explanation below, while you wait for the animation to load.)
You can interactively
manipulate and rotate this paleo-globe, and view the Earth from the
North Pole to the South Pole, and from the eastern edge of Asia to the western
edge of North America. This globe, with the oceans removed, clearly shows the
mid-ocean ridges, trenches, and mountain ranges that form the boundaries of the
Earth's plates. Earth's surface is divided into seven large plates and a similar
number of smaller plates. Plate tectonics is the theory that describes how the
Earth's plates have moved through time. When plates converge they collide
and a one plate dives back down into the Earth in a region called a subduction
zone. The surface extension of a subduction zone is a deep ocean trench
and volcanic island arc (Kurile Islands) or mountain range (Andes mountains).
Earthquakes and volcanoes occur in the vicinity of subduction zones. When
plates move apart, a crack or rift forms in the middle of the ocean.
This rift is sometimes also called the "mid-ocean ridge". New
ocean floor is produced at the mid-ocean ridge by a process called "sea
The colors represent the
depth of the ocean (dark blue - deep oceans, light blue - very shallow seas).
The color of the land areas represents elevation (green - lowlands, browns -
highlands, and white - high mountains). This 3D topographic and bathymetric
model is based primarily on the digital elevation information from Smith and Sandwell
(1997), with additional digital elevation information for the Arctic Ocean
from Jakobsson et al. (2000), for Greenland without ice from Bamber et al. (2000), and
for Antarctica without ice from the British Antarctic
To interactively grab and
rotate the globe, hold down mouse-button and drag mouse up and down across. Some
interesting places to check out: the continents around the North Pole,
Antarctica without ice, the spreading ridges and plateaus of the SE Indian
Ocean, the volcanic islands and small rift basins of the southwest Pacific, the
Himalayan mountain range and Tibetan plateau - among others!
A screen-sized version of
this VR Globe is available on CD-ROM in both Quicktime and html (Java applet)
format. For more information see Teaching
This page uses a java applet that displays a VR model. Visit FreedomVR at www.honeylocust.com/vr/ for more information about this applet.
(c) PALEOMAP Project, 2003. Thanks to WebDoGS by Paul Howell for inspiration.