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Tectonic plates in Google Earth

The scientific use that is applied to Google Earth in the matter of geography and geology every day is more interesting, although we from the cadastral point of view we criticize a lot its accuracy for our selfish ends.

Some time ago I was talking about the animated map that exists of tectonic evolution through the theory of continental drift. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) in conjunction with Google has created a Cape in which you can see the different tectonic plates that make up the lithosphere of our planet. Too educational for a post, but I will try to keep it as simple as 700 words of the patience of my visitors and inspired by a new blog that I discovered today called todocartografía.

1. The plates

At least 15 boards are recognized:

In our Spanish-speaking environment these are related to us: 

North America, from Guatemala to the pole is the North American plate, coinciding in the Pacific with the plate of the Pacific and the small plate of Juan de Fuca

Central America, is the Caribbean plate and the Cocos plate, which is towards the Pacific Ocean

South America, there are the South American, Scottish and Nazca plates. Very south of Chile there is some contact with the Antarctic plate.

Spain is on the Eurasian plate, sticks with the African plate.

    1. African Board
    2. Antarctic plate
    3. Arabic plate
    4. Australian Board
    5. Coconut Plate
    6. Caribbean Plate
    7. Scottish Board (Scotia)
    8. Eurasian plate
    9. Philippine Plate
    10. Indo-Australian Plate
    11. Plate Juan de Fuca
    12. Nazca Plate
    13. Pacific Plate
    14. American plate
    15. South American Plate

    So that in our Hispanic environment, we have relationship with 11 of the 15 plates. The following map shows these layers painted in the style of the school.


    2. The displacement

    The flow of the boiling lava under the surface causes the plates to have a displacement that is approximately 2.5 cm per year, (the speed at which the nails grow) arrows that indicate this direction are shown on the map. This separation or approach is not much, however it is considerable if we think how much a point has moved in 30 years, it would be 75 centimeters. If we think of a point in Mexico, which moves 75 centimeters to the west and the Greenwich meridian that moves in the opposite direction would be 1.50 meters. The point is that the plates move, but the mesh that the latitudes and longitudes make up does not change; which means that a point is moving relative to its coordinate system.

    tectonic plates in google earthAs a consequence, the same point, measured under the same conditions, within 30 years would be displaced 75 centimeters. The Google Earth map shows the displacement and direction of the plates in different areas.

    This is one of the reasons why the topographic survey is tied with control points, which maintain this relative reference for the subsequent cadastral maintenance with respect to the geodetic vertices. Finally we realize that the ultra precision of our gps are quite relative to the exaggerated attention that we lend them.

    3. Geological faults

    tectonic plates in google earth The rose or displacement between these plates is what has formed the mountain ranges, it is also what causes earthquakes or volcanic activity. At least three relationships between the plates are considered:

    • Convergents (Collide with each other)
    • Divergent (Separating)
    • Transformers (They slide together)

    Meanwhile, the boundaries between the plates can be:

    • Constructive
    • Destructive
    • Conservative

    The Google map shows this situation in different colors.

    tectonic plates in google earth

    Also the map includes a layer of seismic movements, it is assumed in real time, showing the magnitude and date themed.

    tectonic plates in google earth

    The best beneficiaries of this type of Google Earth functionalities are the educators, mainly those who teach Geography, Social Studies and Geology classes ... undoubtedly, Google Earth changed our way of seeing the sphere.

    Golgi Alvarez

    Writer, researcher, specialist in Land Management Models. He has participated in the conceptualization and implementation of models such as: National Property Administration System SINAP in Honduras, Management Model of Joint Municipalities in Honduras, Integrated Cadastre-Registry Management Model in Nicaragua, Territory Administration System SAT in Colombia . Editor of the Geofumadas knowledge blog since 2007 and creator of the AulaGEO Academy that includes more than 100 courses on GIS - CAD - BIM - Digital Twins topics.

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    1. What a horror to see that many a dictionary would be the best thing they could ask for for Christmas.
      Greetings from Chile, very good information indeed.

    2. I just need to know what moves they do
      each of the plates

    3. they are not worthy of naaa lo perkinazos ctm .l.

    4. It depends. With h and with c, if we use the dictionary ...
      Greetings to Chile

    5. I want to know the EUROASIATICA fault if it is in motion since it fails corresponds to the one that is moving in Italy!

      Thank you

    6. In what direction and until the region moves the Eurasian plaque

    7. I need to know what are the characteristics of the Pacific tectonic plate

    8. poorr ifs can tell me the characteristics of the plates
      African Board
      Antarctic plate
      Arabic plate
      Australian Board
      Coconut Plate
      Caribbean Plate
      Scottish Board (Scotia)
      Eurasian plate
      Philippine Plate
      Indo-Australian Plate
      Plate Juan de Fuca
      Nazca Plate
      Pacific Plate
      American plate
      South American Plate
      or darmeee the page in k you can go out

    9. I need to know the surface of all tectonic plates


    10. I think that the tectonic plates are certainly displaced by the expulsion of materials on the seabed but the material that is being expelled from the heart of the earth is the one that we have under the feet which influences the position of the continents with respect to the sea and this causes tsunamis and sunamis it is true that the melting of the polar cones affects the height of the seas but the above mentioned situation is happening since the same force of gravity affects the surface of the continents I say this for the holes found in Guatemala and other parts of the world and the alarming number of tsunamis, earthquakes and other events worldwide.


    12. in what suits me this page is very good since in it you can get and also give opinions on any subject

    13. Hello! Hey, by chance, could you tell me what the features of the following boards are:
      - Pacific Plate
      - North American Plate
      - Eurasian plate
      - Coconut plate
      - Caribbean plate
      - Nazca plate
      - Antarctic Plate
      - South American Plate
      - African Plate
      - Indo-Australian plate ???

      Please, I need the features… !! I would appreciate it very much !!

      NOTE: Do not send me the page of wikipedia because I already have it, but if they have another page please tell me !! or if they know the answer they tell me xDDD

    14. I would like to know the characteristics, coordinates, structural state and location ... thank you very much ...

    15. Hehe, I hope it does not give him an earthquake in the diaphragm.

    16. I am very frightened yesterday to my grandfather, the doctor I put a plate, and I do not know that plate will be the one of coconut or the one of the bocota.

    17. I need the map of the movement of the tectonic plates ......... .. help me ......... pro.

    18. my daughter should do a work on how the tectonic plates of spain will be inside 1000, 10.000 and 100.000 years.

      I am not an expert on this and I think you will help me. Thank you

    19. truly sometimes ignores so many things but thanks to you. Today I learned so many things. I like to learn and keep visiting the page every time q. have doubts about any particular.

    20. I need to know what was the last earthquake due to plate movement?


    22. many thanks was a very important task
      with desimas for the pruba to which I do not study much
      well, that's great

    23. uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu !!! I rre served me all thank you very much ... kisses mua

    24. this does not serve much need all the movements of the plates but it is for tomorrow :(

    25. hello it served me for the task thanks…. where can i find about earthquakes and volcanism

    26. this page seems very interesting to me

    27. I need the map of the movement of the tectonic plates ......... .. help me ......... pro.

    28. In what direction do the euroasiatic and pacific plates move, and the Euro-Asiatic and Indo-Australian plates?

    29. It is recognized not 12 but 15 plates and these are:
      African Board
      Antarctic plate
      Arabic plate
      Australian Board
      Coconut Plate
      Caribbean Plate
      Scottish Board (Scotia)
      Eurasian plate
      Philippine Plate
      Indo-Australian Plate
      Plate Juan de Fuca
      Nazca Plate
      Pacific Plate
      American plate
      South American Plate

    30. And also which are the 12 main plates in which the lithosphere is divided?

    31. I need to know: in which directions do the euroasiatic and pacific plates move? and the indoaustralian Euroasiatica?

    32. wauuuu !!!!!!! =) me rre served for the task =) haha

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