View Full Version : First Map (Looking for realism and criticism)

04-14-2012, 05:53 PM
Hi, Iím currently working on a map for an alternative world and I was wondering if anyone would be interested in helping me out.

Having finished setting up the basic shape of the world, Iím trying to figure out how to place the worldís tectonic plates. Knowing very little about geography, I have no idea how to arrange the plates in a somewhat believable manner (Iíve attached what Iíve tried so far). While Iím not looking for 100% realism, Iím still interested in having the map make some form of geographic sense (Iím also planning to use the plates to help determine volcanic and seismic regions, weather patterns, and general temperatures).

The plates ought to be arranged to permit the existence of the desert and mountain chain already illustrated on the map. I donít mind changing certain aspects of the landmass as long as the two previous characteristics can be maintained.

If anyone could tell me ways to arrange the plates (including their general direction), I would be most thankful. Once I get the plates set up, Iíll be able to start fleshing out my map. At the same time, I welcome any advice/criticism on the worldís current shape.

Feel free to doodle on the maps Iíve attached.

PS: The world Iím working on is supposed to roughly share the same characteristics as those of earth (eg: similar size, one moon, ect...). Also, for those interested, the map uses Mercator projection.



04-15-2012, 07:31 PM
I really like how you have drawn the plates, especially how they at certain places seems to overlap each others.
I am not an expert at these things, but what I recommend is to read more about the subject. :) when I started out I read more about it on this website. http://www.platetectonics.com/book/index.asp
I think it explains the basics in a quite simple and understandable way.
I would like to test and draw the movements, but sadly I don't have the oppurtunity for the moment. But as I see it, the Green plate (with mountains) should move towards the light blue plate and form a Continental-Continental Convergent boundary. I believe other members at the guild could provide more accurate and better info than me :/ there are also plenty of other threads here on the forum that brings up the subject! :)

04-16-2012, 06:24 PM
Thanks Uomaru for the link! Of the websites I've found so far on tectonic plates, the one you posted is probably the most detailed one.

I'm currently going over the multiple threads on the forum that go over this subject. I'm still trying to get my head around how to apply all the information I'm finding.

In relation to the overlaps, there actually accidental :). For some reasons, I was having problems drawing out the tectonic boundaries at the time of the post. But hey! if it made it look more interesting, it can't be a bad thing.

For those who may be interested, here are the principle plates drawn in a fairly clear cut manner.


04-17-2012, 01:04 PM
After working on the map for a bit, here is what I've come up so far.



Red lines are for relatively tall mountain ranges while orange lines represent shorter ones. Green arrows represent general direction of the plates while yellow arrows describe the interaction between the plates.

I've yet been able to find an area where there would be transform boundaries. There could perhaps be one between plate 4 and 1b, 2 and 5, 10 and 6, or 8 and 9; although I'm really not sure if it would make sense to have one at any of these areas.

I'm also unsure whether or not I should break down the larger plate (number 1) into 3 parts. Nor I'm I certain if the poles should be actual continents or frozen layers of ice. What would be the environmental consequences, if any, if both poles lay on their own plates or if neither actually had one (such as in the case of Earth's North Pole)? I'm also having trouble figuring out the direction plate 4 ought to have.

As always, I'll be most grateful if anyone can provide me help with this or comment on the current arrangement of mountains and plates.

04-19-2012, 12:37 AM
Looks great! Looks a lot like some distant-time version of the Earth, a couple of supercontinent cycles hence maybe. I like it.

There's a transform boundary between plates 3 and 5, surely, as well as part of the boundary between 8 and 9?Plate 4 doesn't need to be doing much -- actually you could do fine just removing it because you'd have a nice 120-degree plate intersection there between 1b, 5, and 9. Or you could have a microplate just hanging out and rotating or something. The one big plate is actually OK, I think. (Is this a Mercator projection?) It can just be giant and ancient like the Eurasian plate, and you've got the big broken-up mobile belt marked 1c along that transform boundary between 3 and 1, so it looks good. You can just say there's a couple of big cratons in there holding 1 together like Canada.

Regarding the poles: An actual continent like Antarctica disrupts the ocean flow, whereas sea ice like the Arctic ice cap doesn't. This is actually crucial in the generation of deep water on Earth. We have a circumpolar current going straight around Antarctica, and in the Arctic we instead have the water that flows in from the eastern Atlantic and Pacific, does a loop, and flows back out into the western Atlantic. Also it affects temperatures a lot since you can get much colder in the interior of a continent than you can on the ocean, ice or no ice. Your present continental layout looks like you'd have circumpolar currents in both the north and the south, except that the north would maybe not be able to flow at depth through that straits at the northwest tip of continent 1...

04-24-2012, 06:40 PM
Thanks Octopod for the comments! They’re greatly appreciated! I’ve followed your advice and added transform boundaries between plates 3-5 and 8-9. I really like the idea of making 1c into a mobile belt. I’ve also placed some fairly minor transform boundaries between 2-10 and 6-7. I’ve also tried to deal with the boundary interaction of the two plates situated at the poles (I had to shape the map into a globe using KDEMarble in order to figure out how to arrange the direction arrows).


Right now, I’ve gotten really busy at work, so it may take a few weeks before my next reply. However, my next post should include an improved version of the map with different continental proportions in order to increase the earth to water ratio (which I’ve been told is currently too small).

On a side note, if there are no further suggestions in regards to the plates, what are people’s opinions on how the mountain ranges have been arranged? Should I make any modifications?

04-25-2012, 11:26 AM
Looks plausible to me. At first glance the ranges on the western part of plate 9's continent looked too wide, but when I looked closer I couldn't see how to do it better. i think if you implement it similarly to the eastern part of north america it'll be fine.