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We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.

Exploratour - Comparing the Surfaces of Earth and Mars

Plate Tectonics

The following table discusses plate tectonics on Earth and Mars.

Earth


This animated diagram illustrates seafloor spreading on Earth.
Click on image for full size version (40K GIF)
Image courtesy of NOAA/NESDIS/National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, CO.

This animation shows how seafloor spreading works on Earth. The age of the ocean floor in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is shown in colors. The animation shows that the American continents are separated from the Eurasian and African continents as time advances. The red sections are the youngest portions of the ocean floor, where fresh new crust is added from the deep interior of the Earth. The blue portions are the oldest and are near regions of the Earth where subduction is taking place.

The red regions in the animation are associated with mid-ocean spreading ridges. These are areas of the Earth's crust where the ocean floor is being forced to spread apart. The continents drift along on top of the crust as it spreads apart.

Mars


This is a map of the entire Martian surface.
Click on image for full size version (123K GIF)
Image courtesy of NASA.

As the map above shows, the elevated areas of the Martian surface (colored in red) are concentrated on the southern hemisphere of Mars. This would suggest that a single, large plate has formed on Mars, with no subsequent plate tectonics.

Leave the tour and read more about Plate Tectonics.

Leave the tour and read more about the evolution of Mars.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA