World: Tectonic Plates, Earthquakes & Volcanoes Open


  • Flash Interactive: Tectonics, Earthquakes, Volcanoes
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How do earthquakes and volcanoes line up with tectonic boundaries?

How are the tectonic plates related to earthquakes and volcanoes?  This interactive relief and bathymetric map reveals tectonic plates, as well as world-wide earthquakes and volcanoes. By looking at each you can see a positive correlation between all three. Touch "Composite" button to put it all together.

 ABOUT TO GO AWAY: IRIS is going to discontinue Flash animations in 2020. If you have a Flash player app and would like a copy, download this .swf file.


  • Earthquakes line up along tectonic plate boundaries
  • Volcanoes are parallel to, and close to plate boundaries
  • The contact between the plates undergoes 3 F's: Forces, Faults, and Friction, which is what causes the earthquakes.
  • The volcanoes are found where plates oceanic plates are diving beneath another plate, thus they are close to (~100 km away from) convergent plate boundaries.

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Interactive map of tectonic plates from the US Geological Survey plate tectonic map reveals the plate names when you scroll over the plate. Scrolling over green button shows relative motions.

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Video lecture covers three basic types of tectonic plate boundaries.

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Related Software-Web-Apps

A beautiful map of the latest earthquakes in near-real time. The map also provides links to related resources, news, and connections to 3D maps.
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The IRIS Earthquake Browser (IEB) is an interactive tool for exploring millions of seismic event epicenters (normally earthquakes) on a map of the world. Selections of up to 5000 events can also be viewed in 3D and freely rotated with the 3D Viewer companion tool. 

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Related Animations

This animation of the PC program, SeismicEruption, was created for those who are unable to use the program but want to see how Alan L. Jones' SeismicEruption program works.

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