Exciting news! We're transitioning to the Statewide California Earthquake Center. Our new website is under construction, but we'll continue using this website for SCEC business in the meantime. We're also archiving the Southern Center site to preserve its rich history. A new and improved platform is coming soon!
Home  /  Plate Tectonics PuzzleMap

Plate Tectonics PuzzleMap

The SCEC Plate Tectonics PuzzleMap includes the Earth’s plates and important geographical and geological features. It is designed to be cut into pieces along plate boundaries, which, for convenence, are prinited on the back of the map. The map and its accompanying lesson plan can be used as educational tools for plate tectonics and can easily be tailored for a wide variety of age groups. They are great for use in classrooms, museums, and other educational settings.

Map Includes:

  • Plate boundaries marked on the back for easy cutting
  • Volcanoes, mountains, earthquakes, and meteor impacts
  • Vector arrows that show direction and speed of plate movement

Supporting Materials:

  • Commonly lost pieces available online for printing
  • Accompanying user guide with map legend, instructions, and suggested discussion questions


Please visit ShakeOutShop.com to place an order through our partner MorePrepared.



Most Commonly Lost Pieces
Lost one of those small plates? Download and print replacement plates here.

Downloadable User Guide
Download and print additional copies of the User Guide that comes with the puzzle.


Below are a few other resources created and distributed by the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) that are great supplements to the Plate Tectonics PuzzleMap.

Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country
This booklet serves as a comprehensive guide for earthquake preparedness. It has been published in various editions targeted toward different parts of the United States, including Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Region, Northern California, Utah, Central United States, Nevada, and Alaska. All are available in various languages to download or order.

Earthquake Visualizations
This map provides links to various earthquake and earth science visualizations created using SCEC-VDO, a modeling software developed by interns at the Southern California Earthquake Center.

Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills
The Great Shakeout is an annual earthquake drill each October that began in California in 2008, and since has spread across the Unites States and around the world. The ShakeOut website also contains a number of earthquake preparedness resources targeted toward various types of individuals and institutions.


The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information. It provides a number of resources that relate to plate tectonics, and a few of them are listed below.

This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics
This booklet is a fantastic learning tool that provides a great background on plate tectonics and related topics. Topics discussed include Earth composition, basic plate tectonics theory, seafloor spreading, volcanism, orogenic processes, earthquakes, faulting, and more. Published by W. Jacquelyne Kious and Robert I. Tilling.

Journey Along a Fieldline
This graphic publication can be used in conjunction with pp. 17-20 of This Dynamic Earth: the Story of Plate Tectonics. It discusses Earth’s magnetism and some of the technology used to study it. Published by Jeffrey J. Love.


The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) is a university consortium sponsored by the National Science Foundation that is dedicated to the operation of scientific facilities for the acquisition, management, and distribution of freely available seismic data. Below are links to a few resources available from IRIS.

IRIS – Education and Public Outreach
This is the Education and public information page on the IRIS website. It is worth exploring as it contains different sections with a number of IRIS resources, including animations, software, lessons, museum displays, and teachable moments based on recent earthquakes.

Seismic Waves and the Slinky (668 KB PDF)
This handout discusses types of earthquake waves and how they can be demonstrated with a slinky. It provides graphics to show the science behind the waves.

Why Do Earthquakes Happen? (120 KB PDF)
This handout can be used in conjunction with pp. 59-65 of This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics. It briefly discusses earthquake occurrence and plate tectonics.

Other Resources

EarthScope is a National Science Foundation program to study the structure and evolution of the North America continent by installing hundreds of seismometers, GPS stations, and other scientific instruments across the United States. EarthScope provides a unique opportunity for students, teachers, and the public to participate in a national experiment going on in their own backyard. Its website offers a number of workshops and resources for students and educators.

UNAVCO is a non-profit membership-governed consortium that facilitates geoscience research and education using geodesy. It collaborates with scientific and educational partners to increase the number and diversity of the next generation of Earth science students. It provides many learning opportunities including short courses and workshops, educational resources, student internships, and technical training.

Plate Tectonics Animations
These animations cover a wide variety of related topics and are great for use with various age groups. Animations can be found in categories including Global Tectonics, Regional Plate Tectonics and Geologic Histories, Geologic Histories of the Transverse Ranges Region, Origin of Santa Barbara Oil, Ice Age Earth, Craters of the Moon National Monument, and Pore Fluids and Plate Tectonics. Created by Tanya Atwater at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Plate Puzzle
The SCEC Plate Tectonics PuzzleMap was based on this activity and produced with the permission of its creators. Developed by Larry Braile at Purdue University.