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This image shows the topography, or shape, of the Earth's surface, on land and below the oceans. Mountain ranges, subduction trenches, tectonic plates, and mid-ocean ridges are all visible in the image.
Click on image for full size
Image from: U.S. Geological Survey

Surface Features of the Earth

This image of the surface of the Earth shows the North and South American continents, as well as the floor of the Pacific Ocean. As can be seen in the image, the ocean floor shows evidence of

The continental regions show evidence of

(Click on the image to see labeled examples of these features.)

These things provide evidence that, unlike other planets, the surface of the Earth is in motion. Motion of the Earth's surface is called plate tectonics.

Compare this active surface with that of Venus, Mars, or Europa.


Last modified February 26, 2007 by Lisa Gardiner.

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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