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Present Day Static Plate Polygon File 2009


The Present Day Static Plate Polygon File 2009 is a global, self-consistent plate tectonic model that is underpinned by extensive, up-to-date datasets including;

  •            Magnetic anomaly identifications

  •            Fracture zones

  •            Oceanic and continental plate boundaries

  •           Continent-ocean crustal boundaries and other geological datasets.

Dietmar Müller's group at the University of Sydney has led development of the EarthByte model. Our global plate tectonic model comprises a global set of finite rotations, and a plate boundary file. Publications associated with the Present Day Plate Polygon File include Müller et al. (2008), Müller et al. (1997). The rotation file (download below) also includes currently unpublished poles of finite rotation for some tectonic plates.

In order to see the 2008 EarthByte plate tectonic model in action, down-load the reconstruction software GPlates. Load the rotation model and the coastline and plate polygon datasets, then watch the geological evolution of the Earth! Using our global plate model, we are able to compute the absolute paleo-position of virtually any vector dataset.

A set of downloadable global grids are based on this model, including oceanic crustal age, seafloor spreading rates, seafloor spreading asymmetries, and oceanic basement depth anomalies, which are related to crustal thickness variations, and mantle flow. There is also a model for long-term eustatic sea level variations that is based on the EarthByte global plate tectonic model. To download any of these grids please click here.

Oceans reconstructed on the basis of extensive marine magnetic anomaly identification and fracture zone datasets. Our model includes data from all the major ocean basins as well as detailed reconstructions of back-arc basins. For the main ocean basins, seafloor isochrons constructed for the following chrons: 5o (10.9 Ma), 6o (20.1 Ma), 13y (33.1 Ma), 18o (40.1 Ma), 21o (47.9 Ma), 25y (55.9 Ma), 31y (67.7 Ma), 34y (83.5 Ma), M0 (120.4 Ma), M4 (126.7 Ma), M10 (131.9 Ma), M16 (139.6 Ma), M21 (147.7 Ma), and M25 (154.3 Ma). Back-arc basins are often reconstructed using denser isochrons.

Current Work

To improve on the 2008 EarthByte model, we are currently working on the::

1) Temporal extent. Extension of the model back to 200 Ma (2008 model extends to 140 Ma)

2) Reference Frame. Our 2008 model uses a moving hotspot reference frame back to 100 Ma and then a fixed hotspot reference frame for 100-140 Ma. We are in the process of moving to a model that uses a moving hotspot reference frame for 0-100 Ma and then a true polar wander corrected paleomagnetic reference frame for 100-200 Ma. This means that, for older ages in the full model, the reconstructed absolute positions of the plates, in terms of both latitude and longitude, are much more accurate.

3) Synthetic Ocean Polygons. Our 2008 model contains oceanic plate polygons for presently existing ocean crust. The next version of our model will contain polygons reconstructing oceanic material that has been subducted since 200 Ma.

4) Fracture Zones. Interpretation of a new fracture zone dataset using semi-automatic tracking on the latest free-air satellite gravity and vertical derivative grids.

For more information, contact Joanne Whittaker.


The EarthByte 2008 model uses a combined timescale for the Cenozoic - Cande and Kent (1995), and Mesozoic - Gradstein et al. (1994). We are currently upgrading to a combined timescale for the Cenozoic - Cande and Kent (1995), and Mesozoic - Gee and Kent (2007).


Cande, S.C. and Kent, D.V., 1995. Revised calibration of the geomagnetic polarity timescale for the Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic. Journal of Geophysical Research, 100(B4): 6093-6095.

Gee, J. and Kent, D., 2007. Source of oceanic magnetic anomalies and the geomagnetic polarity time scale, Chapter 12. In: M. Kono (Editor), Treatise on Geophysics, pp. 455-507.

Gradstein, F.M. et al., 1994. A Mesozoic time scale. Journal of Geophysical Research, 99(B12): 24051-24074.

Müller, R.D., Roest, W.R., Royer, J.-Y., Gahagan, L.M. and Sclater, J.G., 1997. Digital isochrons of the world's ocean floor. Journal of Geophysical Research, 102: 3211-3214.

Müller, R.D., Sdrolias, M., Gaina, C. and Roest, W.R., 2008. Age, spreading rates and spreading asymmetry of the world's ocean crust. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 9(Q04006): doi:10.1029/2007GC001743.

Plate Polygon Files

Plate Polygon Files as .shp, .dat, .gpml and .xy


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Creative Commons License
Global Coastline and Plate Polygon files by the EarthByte Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.