# Thread: [Award Winner] Using tectonic plates to draw a world map

1. A nice tutorial. It happens that I've experimented with the same process a few times in the past with moderate success.

Lately, however, I've been taking a slightly different approach. Instead of laying out the plates on my own, I've been letting something like FT Pro generate random land masses and oceans and then trying to work out sensible plates from those results. It's made things interesting so far and, in some instances, let me identify dozens upon dozens of potential plates both above and below sea level.

2. This tutorial is magnificent. Repped.

3. Great tutorial. I'm using it in a slightly different fashion as well. Instead of starting at the plates, I started at my super-continent, drew a few random lines for where the future boundaries would be, then drew the continents as they drifted apart. This lets me control the number of continents and the basic shape and gives me the location of my divergent boundaries and my plate movement directions. Then I'll use the knowledge here to find out where my convergent boundaries are and where my mountain ranges and island chains form.

The only thing I didn't see you address is how mountain ranges, when they meet the ocean, don't just stop. They continue on into the ocean and decrease in elevation and flatten out, and the peeks become first a peninsula, then islands in an island chain until the range eventually flattens out and decreases in elevation enough to fall completely below sea level. This is somewhat apparent in southwestern Argentina and northwestern Mexico.

4. ha, I didnt know that somebody will take this approach to create worlds too
but.. U wrote that U want it becouse of some facts rather than randomness. Its nice but as soon as u put the continents as u like, it started to take a path of total randomness

Instead of this (Im not forcing u to study the geology any deeper) u could start (like the earth did) with one big Pangea and then split it up as the plates are moving, so u are not controling the continent count, not form and not the size of them. And it does not need to study nothing more than u did before.

One another big plus of this is that u can set the climate on all the continents based on the initial position of the continent, of its moving and the final position, becasue it is not true, that at the Equatorial it has to be a desert (I know there are more things that affect climate like the Gulf stream, but for start it is enough)... just look at the world map and u see for example that the greenland is totaly frozen while skandinavia isnt and so on...

this goes for the seas like mediterran or lakes too...

but u have all my respect for not just set the continents and hills as u want and u did nice research of how it is really done
if I finish my map, I give it somewhere here and all the progress from the start, maybe once

5. This was exceedingly helpfull! ^^

I used it to draw my latest map (infact, you can see the plate boundaries showing through from the oposite side of the page). I'm really pleased with the way it came out. Thanks again!! ^^

6. Originally Posted by macbeth
Great tutorial. I'm using it in a slightly different fashion as well. Instead of starting at the plates, I started at my super-continent, drew a few random lines for where the future boundaries would be, then drew the continents as they drifted apart. This lets me control the number of continents and the basic shape and gives me the location of my divergent boundaries and my plate movement directions. Then I'll use the knowledge here to find out where my convergent boundaries are and where my mountain ranges and island chains form.

The only thing I didn't see you address is how mountain ranges, when they meet the ocean, don't just stop. They continue on into the ocean and decrease in elevation and flatten out, and the peeks become first a peninsula, then islands in an island chain until the range eventually flattens out and decreases in elevation enough to fall completely below sea level. This is somewhat apparent in southwestern Argentina and northwestern Mexico.
I'd like to see an example of this. Though I don't find myself minding inaccurate maps in novels, I find that when I consider to creating one I become obsessed with ensuring that the details are as accurate as humanly possible. I've tried to find videos on the change in shape and position of Earth's tectonic plates themselves, but they only ever show the movement of the continents. I'm not sure how to deal with the change in shape of the actual plates.

In the time of Pangaea, I imagine that there were more plates containing just large expanses of ocean opposite Pangaea. How did these disappear/shrink/change shape over time? Did they just get mostly or entirely subducted beneath other plates? The more I think about it, the more questions I have and the harder time I have beginning.

So I guess what it all boils down to is this: To anyone who has used the Pangaea/plate movement over time method, how did you determine how the plates would change shape and size as well as position? I hope this question is clear, although I am not sure that it is.

7. Originally Posted by snoopy
In the time of Pangaea, I imagine that there were more plates containing just large expanses of ocean opposite Pangaea. How did these disappear/shrink/change shape over time? Did they just get mostly or entirely subducted beneath other plates? The more I think about it, the more questions I have and the harder time I have beginning.
I am no geologist, but I would think that some of this is obvious. Where plates diverge, that mid-ocean ridge that forms acretes to the plates on either side. Where places converge, one is subducted and its edge is lost, as is the original shape. But the side that glides over is deformed too, but crumpling, in the process that pushes up those mountain chains. Transverse boundaries are not unaffected, either. Anyone who has flown over the relevant parts of California has seen how very straight the San Andreas fault line is (by natural standards, at least). If you live in the San Francisco area you can drive along a string of lakes on the peninsula, reservoirs for the city, that are linear and run in a straight line on top of the fault. Everything to the west of the fault is crustal material that has been shoved off the continental plate and onto the oceanic place.

That's the easy part. The harder part is deciding how to model it in your map. Since most of us don't have a supercomputer at our disposal, we'll have to wing it. Mountains pile up where plates collide, and the boundaries of the colliding plates erode. Unless we're trying to do a series of maps accurately portraying the last few hundred million years of our imaginary worlds, that's probably enough.

I like this approach and intend to try it, in that mythical day when I get some time. I think I would add a rotational component to the plates and perhaps even play with some simplified programmatic model to see what kind of terrain I can auto-generate. Given that I don't have that supercomputer, any terrain generated would be coarse, but might serve as a starting point for a final map.

Thanks for this thread! If someone would be kind enough to tell me how to rep something, I'd do it in a flash.

8. Very interesting.

I will use it to define my world map.

I can imagine the convection zones (from top) to define the direction of the plates.

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