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Basic Map of Earth's Tectonic Plates


Basic Plate Map
The 15 primary plates

Click the map for full size (677 x 462) version

U.S. Geological Survey image

This is a simple map of the tectonic (lithospheric) plates that was overly simple at the time it was prepared in the late 1990s. (Click the image to see it at full size.) It shows 15 plates whereas the experts today count more than 50. Since then the Philippine plate has been changed on the map to the Philippine Sea plate, but many other advances are not reflected here: the African plate has been subdivided; large stretches of plate boundary are now known to be broad zones of deformation; and many microplates and blocks have been carved out of the other plates on the basis of growing GPS evidence.

Learn more in "About Plate Tectonics." This map originally appeared in the publication "This Dynamic Earth" by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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