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Earth’s History and Structure

Do Now

• What are the main compositional layers of

the Earth?
• Crust

• Mantle

• Core
Origin of the Earth
• Earth formed
approximately 4.6 billion
years ago

• Early earth lacked an


• Meteors and Asteroids

bombarded the Earth
Meteor Crater Arizona
Earth’s Interior
• Core
– Made of Iron and Nickel
– Inner Core - solid
– Outer Core - liquid

• Mantle
– Less dense than core
– Iron and Silicates
– Mostly solid

• Crust
– Outermost layer is solid rock.

– Continental – granite

– Oceanic – basalt

• The outer solid layer of the Earth

• Litho- Rock

• Sphere- Round
• Consists of continental, oceanic and upper
part of mantle
• Continents composed of granite-type
rock, less dense then oceanic crust

• Oceanic crust formed of basalt; more dense

then continental crust

• Located below the Lithosphere

• Enormous heat and pressure

• Rock exhibits Plasticity: ability to flow

• Causes Tectonic Plates to move


• Located below the Asthenosphere

• “Meso” means middle

Outer Core

• Made of liquid Iron and Nickel

Inner Core

• Made of solid iron and nickel

Do Now

• What is the difference between the Earth’s

lithosphere and asthenosphere.
Earth’s Gravity

• Gravity is the force of attraction due to an

object’s mass

• Determined by mass and distance

between two objects in space
What is the difference between
weight and mass?

• Hint: You would weigh less on the moon,

but your mass is constant.
Weight and Mass

• Weight-Measurement of the pull of gravity

on an object

• Mass-The amount of matter an object is

composed of

• Research how the Earth’s magnetic field is


• Describe how the magnetic field protects

us from radiation.

• Read 29-32
• Define all Key Terms
• Answer (1-6) on pg. 32
Earth’s Interior
Continental Drift Evidence
• Researchers noted geographic fit of continents
• e.g. Africa and S. America
• Atlantic formed by separation of Africa from S. America

• Seuss, 1885, proposed super continent by studying fossils,

rocks, mountains

• Wegener and Taylor, early 1900’s, proposed continental drift

and Pangaea

• Evidence supporting the idea that the continents had drifted.

– Geographic fit of continents
– Fossils
– Mountains
– Glaciation
Continental Drift
Geographic Fit

• Continents seem to fit together like pieces of a puzzle

Continental Drift

• Similar distribution of fossils such as the Mesosaurus

Palisades in North New Jersey
Continental Drift

• Mountain ranges match across oceans

Continental Drift

• Glacial ages and climate evidence

Diving between the plates in Iceland
Continental Drift Model

• Alfred Wegener
– Presented research to

– Did not provide a

plausible mechanism to
explain how continents
Seafloor Spreading
• Continental drift reexamined in 1960’s with new

• New theory developed – Seafloor spreading

• Supporting evidence for seafloor spreading

– World seismicity
– Volcanism
– Age of seafloor
– Paleomagnetism
– Heat flow
• Theory combining continental drift and seafloor spreading
termed “Plate Tectonics”
Seafloor Spreading

• New sea floor created at the mid-ocean ridge

and destroyed in deep ocean trenches
Evidence for Seafloor Spreading
World Seismicity

• Earthquake distribution matches plate boundaries

Evidence for Seafloor Spreading

• Volcanoes match some plate boundaries; some are

hot spots
Evidence for Seafloor Spreading
Age of Seafloor

• Youngest sea floor is at mid-ocean ridge

• Oldest sea floor away from mid-ocean ridge
Evidence for Seafloor Spreading

• Earth has a magnetic field - Probably caused by rotation of

solid inner core in liquid outer core (both mostly Fe)
• When rocks cool at the Earth’s surface, they record Earth’s
magnetic field (normal or reverse polarity)
Evidence for Seafloor Spreading

• Paleomagnetic studies indicate alternating

stripes of normal and reverse polarity at the
mid-ocean ridge.
Seafloor Spreading
Heat Flow
Seafloor Spreading
Convection Currents

• In 1960, proposed as driving force to move continents

Theory of Plate Tectonics

• John Tuzo Wilson combined ideas of continental

drift and seafloor spreading into “Plate Tectonics”
Principles of Plate Tectonics

• Earth’s outermost layer composed of thin

rigid plates moving horizontally

• Plates interact with each other along their

edges (plate boundaries)

• Plate boundaries have high degree of tectonic

– mountain building
– earthquakes
– volcanoes
Plate Boundaries
Three types

• Divergent
• Convergent
• Transform
Plate Boundaries

• Plates move away from each other

• New crust is being formed
Divergent Plate Boundaries

East African Rift Mid-Atlantic Ocean Ridge

Plate Boundaries

Three Types:

• Ocean-continent

• Ocean-ocean

• Continent-continent

• Plates are moving toward each other

• Crust is being destroyed
Convergent Plate Boundaries
Mount Fuji, Japan Examples
Mount Lassen, California

Andes, South America

Plate Boundaries


• Crust is neither created nor destroyed

• Plates slide past one another
Transform Plate Boundaries

San Andreas Fault

Calexico, California

Carrizo Plains, Central California