GPlates “Interactive Visualisation Of Plate-tectonics”

GPlates is desktop software for the interactive visualisation of plate-tectonics.

GPlates offers a novel combination of interactive plate-tectonic reconstructions, geographic information system (GIS) functionality and raster data visualisation. GPlates enables both the visualisation and the manipulation of plate-tectonic reconstructions and associated data through geological time. GPlates runs on Windows, Linux and MacOS X.
GPlates is free software (also known as open-source software), licensed for distribution under the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2.


GPlates 1.2.0 (January 2012) his screenshot shows a map view of the classic “Blue Marble” bathymetry and topography raster reconstructed using present day static polygons and an age grid. Also shown is the Small Circle tool being used to create small circle features.
GPlates 1.4.0 (April 2014) Velocities smoothed across a plate boundary avoid abrupt changes in nearby plate velocities.
GPlates 1.3.0 (May 2013) The General Bathymetric Chart of the Ocean (GEBCO) raster.
GPlates 1.3.0 (May 2013) Cross sections through the mantle temperature scalar field coloured by isovalue (temperature) with topological plate boundaries overlaid on top. Cooler sections show up as green/yellow and highlight subducting plates.
GPlates 1.3.0 (May 2013) Mantle temperature isosurface with semi-transparent deviation window. The surface mask includes the entire surface of the globe except the Eurasian plate. The polygon walls show isolines where the isosurface and its two deviation isosurfaces intersect the wall.


GPlates 1.4 : Download 

GPlates-compatible data : Download

Load data in GPlates

To load the global coastline file and the rotation file in GPlates:
  1. Download each data file and save it to disk.
  2. Pull down the GPlates File menu.
  3. Select the operation Open Feature Collection….
To load a sequence of time-dependent raster images (for example, Bernhard Steinberger’s dynamic topography images) in GPlates:
  1. Download the file “”, save it to disk, and unzip it.
  2. Pull down the GPlates File menu and select the operation Import Time-dependent Raster….
  3. Click the Add Directory button.
  4. Choose the “jpg” folder inside the “dynamic topography” folder. (Don’t browse into the “jpg” folder; instead, click the folder once to select it, then press the Choose button.)
  5. Choose the Next button of the dialog to finish the import wizard.
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