Skip Navigation

Inside the Earth - Science Language
Athenosphere
The upper layer of the earth's mantle, below the lithosphere, in which there is relatively low resistance to plastic flow and convection is thought to occur.
Continental Drift Hypothesis
Formed by Alfred Wagener; suggests that continents were once one solid land mass and have drifted to various parts of the globe.
Convection current
A current in a fluid that results from heated matter rising and cooler matter sinking.
Convergent Boundry
Where two tectonic plates meet as they move towards each other.
Core
The center most part of the Earth; composed of a liquid outer core and solid inner core. Very hot.
Crust
Outer most layer of Earth. Thin brittle shell composed of rocky material. Cool. Solid.
Divergent Boundary
Where two tectonic plates separate as they move away from each other.
Earthquake
The release of sudden and extreme energy that is caused by shifting in the Earth's crust.
Geologic Record
The history of the Earth as recorded in the rock record.
Heat of Formation
The heat left over from the formation of the Earth.
Inner Core
The innermost, hottest part of the Earth; primarily solid sphere. It is believed to consist of an iron-nickel alloy, and may have a temperature similar to the Sun's surface.
Lithosphere
The rigid outer part of the earth, consisting of the crust and upper mantle.
Lithospheric Plate
Another name for tectonic plate
Magnetic Striping
Stripes of alternating normal and reversed polarities frozen into oceanic crust, caused by earth's changing magnetic poles
Mantle
The highly viscous (thick liquid) layer of the Earth, located between the core and crust. Hot.
Mantle Plume (Hot spot)
An upwelling of molten material from the Earth’s mantle, often occurring on ocean floor.
Mesosphere
The region of the mantle that is under the asthenosphere but above the outer core. The upper boundary is defined by a sharp increase in seismic wave velocities.
Mid-Ocean Ridge
A long, seismically active submarine ridge system found in the middle of an ocean basin and marking the site of the upwelling of magma associated with seafloor spreading. An example is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Oceanic Trenches
A long narrow steep-sided depression in the earth's oceanic crust, usually lying above a subduction zone.
Outer Core
The outer core of the Earth is a liquid layer about 2,260 kilometers thick composed of iron and nickel which lies above the Earth's solid inner core and below its mantle.
Physical Properties
Characteristics of matter that do not change the chemical nature of the matter. Examples include color, freezing point, shape, state, and density.
Plate Tectonics
A theory explaining the structure of the earth's crust and many associated phenomena as resulting from the interaction of rigid lithospheric plates that move slowly over the underlying mantle.
Radioactive Decay
When a radioactive element breaks down into lighter elements and emits radiation.
Sea-floor Spreading
The process in which the ocean floor is expanded when two tectonic plates move apart at a divergent boundary
Tectonic Plate
Pieces of the Earth’s crust and uppermost mantle. There are seven main plates. Composed of two main materials, oceanic crust and continental crust.
Transform Boundary
Where two tectonic plates touch each other as the move in opposite directions past each other.
Volcano
Openings in the Earth’s crust through which gases, molten rock, lava, or solid rock fragments are discharged.
utah state board of education This Sci-ber Text was developed by the Utah State Board of Education and Utah educators.