Lithosphere Facts

Lithosphere Facts
The lithosphere is the earth's upper crust and mantle, the uppermost solid earth layer. The lithosphere is made up of tectonic plates, which are basically the continents of the planet. It is believed the original configuration of the continents was one solid land mass, known as Pangaea, and that it broke into several tectonic plates and created the individual continents. The lithosphere can be classified as either the continental lithosphere or the oceanic lithosphere. While the top layer of the lithosphere is generally the same temperature as the location at the surface, it increases by 35°C for each 100 meters below the surface, getting as hot as 1280°C where it ends at the asthenosphere.
Interesting Lithosphere Facts:
The word lithosphere is derived from the Greek words 'litho' which means 'rocky', and 'sphaira' which means 'sphere'.
A.E.H. Love, a mathematician, was the first to describe the concept of the earth's structure consisting of an outer layer in 1911 in his monograph titled "Some problems of Geodynamics".
A geologist named Joseph Barrell took Love's theory further and recognized that the continental crust had both an upper solid crust and an underlying layer that was semi-molten. He called the semi-molten layer the asthenosphere, and the upper solid crust the lithosphere. He based his theories on the fact that there were gravity anomalies over the earth's continental crust.
The oceanic lithosphere is between 5 to 10 miles thick.
The continental lithosphere is approximately 22 miles thick, although it can reach 37 miles under certain mountain ranges.
The continental lithosphere is billions of years old while the oceanic lithosphere is much younger and is constantly being created from mantle material at mid-ocean ridges.
The lithosphere's main plates include the African Plate, the Antarctic Plate, the Eurasian Plate, the Indo-Australian Plate, the North American Plate, the South American Plate, and the Pacific Plate.
Smaller but important plates include the Arabian Plate, the Caribbean Plate, the Cocos Plate, Indian Plate, the Juan de Fuca Plate, the Nazca Plate, the Philippine Sea Plate, and the Scotia Plate.
When a continental plate and an oceanic plate come together the oceanic plate sinks below the continental plate.
It is from the lithosphere that we are able to extract natural resources such as coal, various fuels, and metals. It is also important for plants, providing the minerals required for their growth.
The continental lithosphere is comprised of igneous rock called felsic rock. This rock is rich in the elements required to form quartz and feldspar.
The oceanic lithosphere is comprised of mafic crust and ultramafic mantle. The mafic crust is made up of silicate mineral that is rich in iron and magnesium. The ultramafic crust is made up of Peridotite which is made up of olivine and pyroxene - contained less than 45% silica.
The lithosphere is the location where all earthquakes on earth occur, because an earthquake occurs when tectonic plates shift or collide.
When a continental plate and oceanic plate collide, the continental plate scrapes off the oceanic plate's top layers, which are called terranes.
There are 17 terranes located in the San Francisco Bay region, a result of the movement that has occurred along the San Andreas Fault line in California.


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