Thorsten W. Becker

Jackson School of Geosciences
The University of Texas at Austin

Global plate tectonic maps


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downloads: [software] [tomography] [visualizations] [global maps]
[SKS compilation] [APM model] [LPO model]
[lecture notes] [papers]

This page has a number of simple and more complicated, global plate tectonics maps showing plate motions, seismicity, and other indicators of how tectonics affects the surface of the Earth.

These maps are produced with GMT, iGMT, and make use of a range of geophysical datasets as compiled within iGMT or the Unified Geodynamics Earth Science Computing Environment (UGESCE), and may be useful for teaching or research. For information on how to make such maps and use GMT and iGMT, see my computing and Earth science mapping teaching material and the Unified Geodynamics Earth Science Computing Environment (UGESCE).

  • Topography, crustal velocities, Engdahl seismicity, and Harvard CMT solutions:
    Africa centered map Pacific centered map
    [PDF] [PNG] [PDF] [PNG]

    Download a PDF of the same map with map center on the Pacific or Africa. (With illumination/shading: download a PDF.)
  • Topography, plate motions, shallow (< 50 km) seismicity and CMTs:
    Africa centered map Pacific centered map
    [PDF] [PNG] [PDF] [PNG]

    Download a PDF with map center on the Pacific or Africa.
  • Topography, plate motions, seismicity:
    Africa centered map Pacific centered map
    [PDF] [PNG] [PDF] [PNG]

    Download a PDF file, centered on the Pacific or Africa. (With illumination: PDF.)

    The iGMT produced GMT scripts used to make these maps can be found by following this link to the data ftp directory.

    You might also want to check out a comparison of all the colormaps that come with GMT, as PDF files in their in their original spacing, or normalized to 0...1.

  • Topography, plate boundaries, and subduction zone seismicity contour map:

    [PDF] [PNG]
    This map, on a non-projection projection, can be useful to find rough geographic coordiates, etc. Slab contours are from the Gudmundsson and Sambridge (1998) RUM model.
  • Simple plate tectonic map with plate velocities:
    NUVEL-1A
    (deMets et al., 1994)
    MORVEL-56
    (Argus et al., 2011)
    No net rotation reference frame
    [PDF] [PNG] [PDF] [PNG]
    [PDF] [PNG] [PDF] [PNG]
    Spreading aligned (Becker et al., 2015) reference frame
    [PDF] [PNG] [PDF] [PNG]
    [PDF] [PNG] [PDF] [PNG]
    References:
    • Argus, D. F., Gordon, R. G., & DeMets, C. (2011). Geologically current motion of 56 plates relative to the no-net-rotation reference frame. Geochem., Geophys., Geosys., 12(11).
    • Becker, T. W., Schaeffer, A. J., Lebedev, S., & Conrad, C. P. (2015). Toward a generalized plate motion reference frame. Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, 3188-3196.
    • DeMets, C., Gordon, R. G., Argus, D. F., & Stein, S. (1994). Effect of recent revisions to the geomagnetic reversal time scale on estimates of current plate motions. Geophys. Res. Lett., 21, 2191-2194.
  • Global seafloor age from Mueller et al. (2008) for the present-day
    See also the animation of inferred Cenozoic seafloor age variations.

    [PDF] [PNG]
  • Plate reconstructions with reconstructed seafloor age
    • Simple animation with convergent margins
    • New complex animations, showing velocity amplitudes (NNR frame), reconstructed age, poloidal, and toroidal surface velocities
      • Mattheews et al. (2016), corrected for Torsvik et al. (2019), ages computed by Krister Karlsen, reconstruction provided by Clint Conrad
      • Mueller et al. (2016)
      • Mueller et al. (2019)
    • Old animations
      Animations of Müller et al.'s (2008) seafloor age reconstructions, as used for time variable plate tectonic heat transport estimates by Loyd et al. (2007) and Becker et al. (2009).
      Animations of Seton et al.'s (2012) seafloor age reconstructions.

      Animations of Müller et al.'s (2016) seafloor age reconstructions.
      • Müller, R.D., Seton, M., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Wright, N.M., Shephard, G.E., Maloney, K.T., Barnett-Moore, N., Hosseinpour, M., Bower, D.J., Cannon, J., 2016. Ocean basin evolution and global-scale plate reorganization events since Pangea breakup, Ann. Rev. Earth Planet Sci., 44, 107-138.
  • Three dimensional visualizations
  • Global and regional lithospheric deformation styles from moment tensors




    Shallow Global CMT solutions Kostrov summed and colored by the mean horizontal strain (negative: compression, zero: strike-slip, positive: extention). See legend for bin size and depth selection criteria.

[news] [research] [teaching] [team] [publications] [CV] [contact]
downloads: [software] [tomography] [visualizations] [global maps]
[SKS compilation] [APM model] [LPO model]
[lecture notes] [papers]

Updated: March 04, 2024. (c) Thorsten Becker, 1997-2024.