TOOLS: Map-o-Matic

Science  21 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5708, pp. 329
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5708.329c

Earth's lithospheric plates (black) meet at geologically active zones in this strain rate map of the world. Red and magenta mark regions with the highest deformation rate, such as south of Sumatra, where a magnitude 9.0 eruption spawned the 26 December tsunami. The image was created with a handy mapping tool from UNAVCO Inc., a nonprofit earth science organization in Boulder, Colorado. After developing the tool 5 years ago for geophysicists, software developer Lou Estey realized it would be a snap to pull in public data sets on the planets, Earth's vegetation, and much more. Users can zoom in, pan out, or download high-resolution maps for printing. A junior version now used by some teachers makes it even easier to create a map of active volcanoes, say, or the world lit up at night. “I've sat down and showed 8-year-olds, and in 5 minutes they're having a blast,” says Estey.

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