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TheLayersoftheEarth

Copyright 2006. M. J. Krech. All rights reserved.

TheFourLayers
TheEarthiscomposedoffour
differentlayers.Thecrustis
thelayerthatyouliveon,and
itisthemostwidelystudied
andunderstood.Themantle
ismuchhotterandhasthe
abilitytoflow.Theouter
coreandinnercoreare
evenhotterwithpressuresso
greatyouwouldbesqueezed
intoaballsmallerthana
marbleifyouwereabletogo
tothecenteroftheEarth!

TheCrust
TheEarth'sCrustislike
theskinofanapple.Itis
verythinincomparisonto
theotherthreelayers.The
crustisonlyabout35
miles(8kilometers)thick
undertheoceans(oceanic
crust)andabout25miles
(32kilometers)thick
underthecontinents
(continentalcrust).

TheLithosphericPlates

ThecrustoftheEarthisbrokenintomanypiecescalled
plates.Theplates"float"onthesoft,semirigid
asthenosphere.

TheAsthenosphere
Theasthenosphere
isthesemirigid
partofthemiddle
mantlethatflows
likehotasphalt
underaheavy
weight.

TheLithosphere
Thecrustandtheupperlayerofthe
mantletogethermakeupazoneofrigid,
brittlerockcalledtheLithosphere.

TheCrust

Thecrustiscomposedoftworocks.Thecontinental
crustismostlygranite.Theoceaniccrustisbasalt.
Basaltismuchdenserthanthegranite.Becauseofthis
thelessdensecontinentsrideonthedenseroceanic
plates.

TheMantle
TheMantleisthe
largestlayeroftheEarth.
Themiddlemantleis
composedofveryhot
denserockthatflowslike
asphaltunderaheavy
weight.Themovementof
themiddlemantle
(asthenosphere)isthe
reasonthatthecrustal
platesoftheEarthmove.

ConvectionCurrents
Themiddlemantle"flows"
becauseofconvection
currents.Convection
currentsarecausedbythe
veryhotmaterialatthe
deepestpartofthemantle
rising,thencoolingand
sinkingagainrepeating
thiscycleoverandover.

ConvectionCurrents
Thenexttimeyouheatanythinglike
souporwaterinapanyoucanwatch
theconvectioncurrentsmovein
theliquid.Whentheconvection
currentsflowintheasthenosphere
theyalsomovethecrust.Thecrust
getsafreeridewiththesecurrents,
likethecorkinthisillustration.

SafetyCaution:Dontgetyourface
tooclosetotheboilingwater!

TheOuterCore
ThecoreoftheEarth
islikeaballofvery
hotmetals.The

outercoreisso

hotthatthemetalsin
itareallintheliquid
state.Theoutercore
iscomposedofthe
meltedmetalsof
nickelandiron.

TheInnerCore
Theinnercoreof
theEarthhas
temperaturesand
pressuressogreatthat
themetalsare
squeezedtogetherand
arenotabletomove
aboutlikealiquid,but
areforcedtovibratein
placelikeasolid.

TheEnd

BONUS:
Findapairortrioandanswer
thisquestion:

Haveweeverseenpart
oftheMantle?Explain.

Copyright 2006. M. J. Krech. All rights reserved.