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Plate Tectonics


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PhET Interactive Simulations
University of Colorado Boulder


  • Plate Tectonics
  • Crust
  • Lithosphere
  • Mantle
  • Density
  • Buoyancy
  • Earth Science


Explore how plates move on the surface of the earth. Change temperature, composition, and thickness of plates. Discover how to create new mountains, volcanoes, or oceans!

Sample Learning Goals

  • Describe the differences between oceanic and continental crust, including their respective properties of density, composition, temperature and thickness.
  • Predict how changes in composition and temperature change crust density and buoyancy.
  • Draw a time series for different types of plate boundaries and their motions, indicating the related surface features.
  • Deduce the type of plate boundary given images or descriptions of surface features.
  • Explain which types of plate boundaries create crust, and which destroy crust
Version 1.02