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Earth global surface features - Windows to the Universe

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Hands On Mineral Identification helps you to identify over 14,500 minerals! By M. Darby Dyar, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
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 by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF