Seismic Activity

Earthquakes (magnitude)
< 5.0 >>>>> 9.0

1,540 from the Holocene Period (past 10,000 years)

Age of the Ocean's Lithosphere
0 >>>>>> 280 million years


At its most fundamental level the earth system is determined by the lithosphere: 7 major tectonic plates on average 100 kilometers thick. The continuously diverging and converging plates push up mountain ranges and enfold ocean floors down into lava. Over billions of years, as the earth slowly cools, these forces form terrestrial topography and marine bathymetry, which shapes global climate, species distribution and ultimately human culture. Vast fissures in the ocean floor which filter and regurgitate the ocean are a likely source for the origin of life.

The current configuration of continents which we recognize as the outlines of our national and global identities are traceable to 'Pangea', a unified landmass which began separating 175 million years ago. Projecting their current drifts, geophysicists speculate that in 250 million years the earth's tectonics will create a world known as 'Pangea Ultima', one completely unrecognizable to us. In 500 million years the earth's current terrestrial surface will be entirely reabsorbed in to the magma.

Pangea Ultima (red), Pangea (Green)

1. Earthquakes

International Seismological Centre, "The ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake Catalogue, version 2.0" (Thatcham, United Kingdom: Internatl. Seismol. Cent., 2015), (accessed June 21, 2015). Data made available under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 License:

2. Volcanoes

E. Venzke (ed.), Global Volcanism Program, "Volcanoes of the World, version 4.4.0" (Smithsonian Institution, 2013), (accessed June 27, 2015).

3. Ocean's Lithosphere

R. Dietmar Müller, et al., "Age, spreading rates, and spreading symmetry of the world's ocean crust," Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 9, no. 4 (2008). Available at

4. Hotspots

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, "The Biodiversity Hotspots," (accessed July 1, 2014). Data made available under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 License: