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About the GPlates Sample Data

GPlates is packaged with a range of sample data sets that allow users to quickly and easily get up-and-running with plate tectonic reconstructions.

This page details the sources of these data, and suggested citations. When using GPlates and the sample data to make figures for publications, we recommend citing the original data sources as indicated below.

To download additional data sets ready for use within GPlates, click here.

Features and Rotation File

The sample data includes the EarthByte rotation file, which contains a compilation of reconstruction poles that describe the motions of the continents and oceans. These rotations are a synthesis of many previous studies - each line in the rotation file lists the original source of the corresponding pole of rotation. Many of these original sources are listed within the Seton et al (2012) paper listed below.

The feature data provided are compatible with this rotation file. Basic feature data include present day coastlines, spreading ridges, flowlines and continent-ocean boundaries (COBs).

Static polygons allow plate IDs to be assigned to sets of data and to 'cookie-cut' and reconstruct raster data. These polygons, and the set of isochrons defining the age of the ocean floor, are consistent with the grid of seafloor age described here. The continental polygons are a data set containing the continental lithosphere only (consistent with the static polygons).

A topological network of plate polygons with dynamic geometries are provided for the last 200 Ma. These data are provided in gpml format and require GPlates to be effectively visualised. Further information on this collection of data can be found here.

GPlates Plate Polygons

Suggested citation:
M. Seton, R.D. Müller, S. Zahirovic, C. Gaina, T.H. Torsvik, G. Shephard, A. Talsma, M. Gurnis, M. Turner, S. Maus, M. Chandler, Global continental and ocean basin reconstructions since 200 Ma, Earth-Science Reviews, Volume 113, Issues 3–4, July 2012, Pages 212-270, ISSN 0012-8252, 10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.03.002.

Seafloor Fabric

A folder within the sample data named 'SeafloorFabric' contains a set of geometries that define the tectonic fabric of the world's oceans. The data are taken from a global community data set of fracture zones (FZs), discordant zones, propagating ridges, V-shaped structures and extinct ridges, digitized from vertical gravity gradient (VGG) maps. More information can be found here.

GPlates Seafloor Fabric

Suggested citation:
K.J. Matthews, R.D. Müller, P. Wessel & J.M. Whittaker, 2011, The tectonic fabric of the ocean basins, The Journal of Geophysical Research. (doi:10.1029/2011JB008413)


[Note: the resolution of the provided rasters has been limited to reduce the file size of the GPlates package. The original data sets are available in higher resolutions.]

Ocean Floor Agegrid

The sample data includes a 6-minute resolution grid of the age of the world's ocean crust is produced by the Earthbyte group. More information, and a 2-minute resolution grid of the same data, can be found here.
Also included are a time-dependent series of jpgs showing the paleoage of the seafloor, reconstructed at 1 Ma intervals. More information, and links to download the data in the original grid format, can be found here

AgeGrid within GPlates

Suggested citation:
Müller, R.D., Sdrolias, M., Gaina, C. and Roest, W.R., 2008, Age spreading rates and spreading asymmetry of the world's ocean crust, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 9, Q04006, doi:10.1029/2007GC001743.

Global Topography

The color image of the ETOPO1 global relief model is available from the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC). More information, and the original data in a variety of grid formats, can be found here.

ETOPO1 within GPlates

Suggested citation:
Amante, C. and B. W. Eakins, ETOPO1 1 Arc-Minute Global Relief Model: Procedures, Data Sources and Analysis. NOAA Technical Memorandum NESDIS NGDC-24, 19 pp, March 2009.

Global Free Air Gravity

The image of free air gravity is generated from the DNSC08 gravity field model produced by the Danish National Space Centre (DNSC). More information, as well as the original data sets in their full resolution, can be found here.

DNSC08 within GPlates

Suggested citations:
Andersen, O. B., P. Knudsen and P. Berry (2010) The DNSC08GRA global marine gravity field from double retracked satellite altimetry, Journal of Geodesy, Volume 84, Number 3, DOI: 10.1007/s00190-009-0355-9.

Andersen, O. B., The DTU10 Gravity field and Mean sea surface (2010), Second international symposium of the gravity field of the Earth (IGFS2), Fairbanks, Alaska.

Global Lithospheric Magnetic Anomalies

The World Magnetic Anomaly Map (WDMAM) project integrates all available near-surface and satellite magnetic anomaly data into a single gridded data set. More information, and the original data at full resolution, can be found here.

Suggested citation:
Maus, S., U. Barckhausen, H. Berkenbosch, N. Bournas, J. Brozena, V. Childers, F. Dostaler, J. D. Fairhead, C. Finn, R. R. B. von Frese, C. Gaina, S. Golynsky, R. Kucks, H. Luhr, P. Milligan, S. Mogren, D. Muller, O. Olesen, M. Pilkington, R. Saltus, B. Schreckenberger, E.Thebault, and F. Caratori Tontini, EMAG2: A 2-arc-minute resolution Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid compiled from satellite, airborne and marine magnetic measurements, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., doi:10.1029/2009GC002471.

Global Time-Dependent Dynamic Topography Files (0-70 Ma)

A sequence of time-dependent global raster images (JPEG images, generated from GMT grid files of dynamic topography). The dynamic topography comes from the work of Bernhard Steinberger at NGU. The raster images were created by Robin Watson at NGU.

Suggested citations:
Muller, R. D., Sdrolias, M., Gaina, C., Steinberger, B. & Heine, C., 2008. Long-term sea level fluctuations driven by ocean basin volume change, Science, 319, 1357--1362, doi:10.1126/science.1151540.

Ritsema, J. & van Heijst, H.J., 2000. Seismic imaging of structural heterogeneity in Earth's mantle: Evidence for large-scale mantle flow, Sci. Progr., 83, 243--259.

Paleomagnetic Data

The paleomagnetism directory contains sample palaeomagnetic data sets from the IAGA Global Paleomagnetic Database. The data are provided in GMAP VGP format, and GPML format. Both file formats can be read by GPlates. More information about these data can be found here.

GPlates paleomagnetism

Phanerozoic Reconstruction - Paleogeography and paleobiology

The contains a Phanerozoic plate motion model, digital coastline file, and continental outlines, ready for use with GPlates. This plate motion model is different from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic plate models by the EarthByte group, including models by Müller et al. (2008) and Seton et al. (2012). Instead, the Phanerozoic plate motion model accompanying this paper is based on the relative plate motions from Golonka (2007) and the updated absolute motions of Africa (using the GAD rotations) from Torsvik and Van Der Voo (2002). The complete Paleobiology Database (as of October 2011) is included in the supplementary material as tab delimited files, and the converted shapefiles are available for collections between 100 and 0 Ma. The Palaeogeographic Atlas of Australia is also provided in shapefile format, and has been converted into GTS2004. Additionally, the workflow and selected results from our data mining process is provided. here.

GPlates paleogeography

Suggested citations:
Wright, N., Zahirovic, S., Müller, R. D., and Seton, M. "Towards community-driven paleogeographic reconstructions: integrating open-access paleogeographic and paleobiology data with plate tectonics, Biogeosciences, 10, 1529-1541, doi:10.5194/bg-10-1529-2013, 2013.