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UNIVERSITY OF PERPETUAL HELP SYSTEM DALTA

Alabang Zapote Rd., Pamplona III, Las Pias City

College of Engineering

Civil Engineering Department

Assignment No. 2

EARTHS INTERIOR AND ISOSTASY

Date Submitted: July 17, 2017 Melchor, Jeffrey A.

B.S.CE III

Engr. Joel R. Palacol

Instructor
The Earth's Interior

Inner core: 1.7% of the Earth's mass; depth of 5,150-6,370 kilometers (3,219
- 3,981 miles)
The inner core is solid and unattached to the mantle, suspended in the molten
outer core. It is believed to have solidified as a result of pressure-freezing which
occurs to most liquids when temperature decreases or pressure increases.
Outer core: 30.8% of Earth's mass; depth of 2,890-5,150 kilometers (1,806 -
3,219 miles)
The outer core is a hot, electrically conducting liquid within
which convective motion occurs. This conductive layer combines with Earth's
rotation to create a dynamo effect that maintains a system of electrical currents
known as the Earth's magnetic field. It is also responsible for the subtle jerking of
Earth's rotation. This layer is not as dense as pure molten iron, which indicates
the presence of lighter elements. Scientists suspect that about 10% of the layer
is composed of sulfur and/or oxygen because these elements are abundant in
the cosmos and dissolve readily in molten iron.
D": 3% of Earth's mass; depth of 2,700-2,890 kilometers (1,688 - 1,806
miles)
This layer is 200 to 300 kilometers (125 to 188 miles) thick and represents about
4% of the mantle-crust mass. Although it is often identified as part of the lower
mantle, seismic discontinuities suggest the D" layer might differ chemically from
the lower mantle lying above it. Scientists theorize that the material either
dissolved in the core, or was able to sink through the mantle but not into the core
because of its density.
Lower mantle: 49.2% of Earth's mass; depth of 650-2,890 kilometers (406 -
1,806 miles)
The lower mantle contains 72.9% of the mantle-crust mass and is probably
composed mainly of silicon, magnesium, and oxygen. It probably also contains
some iron, calcium, and aluminum. Scientists make these deductions by
assuming the Earth has a similar abundance and proportion of cosmic elements
as found in the Sun and primitive meteorites.
Transition region: 7.5% of Earth's mass; depth of 400-650 kilometers (250-
406 miles)
The transition region or mesosphere (for middle mantle), sometimes called the
fertile layer, contains 11.1% of the mantle-crust mass and is the source
of basaltic magmas. It also contains calcium, aluminum, and garnet, which is a
complex aluminum-bearing silicate mineral. This layer is dense when cold
because of the garnet. It is buoyant when hot because these minerals melt easily
to form basalt which can then rise through the upper layers as magma.
Upper mantle: 10.3% of Earth's mass; depth of 10-400 kilometers (6 - 250
miles)
The upper mantle contains 15.3% of the mantle-crust mass. Fragments have
been excavated for our observation by eroded mountain belts and volcanic
eruptions. Olivine (Mg,Fe)2SiO4 and pyroxene (Mg,Fe)SiO3 have been the
primary minerals found in this way. These and other minerals are refractory and
crystalline at high temperatures; therefore, most settle out of rising magma, either
forming new crustal material or never leaving the mantle. Part of the upper
mantle called the asthenosphere might be partially molten.
Oceanic crust: 0.099% of
Earth's mass; depth of 0-10
kilometers (0 - 6 miles)
The oceanic crust contains 0.147%
of the mantle-crust mass. The
majority of the Earth's crust was
made through volcanic activity.
The oceanic ridge system, a
40,000-kilometer (25,000 mile)
network of volcanoes, generates
new oceanic crust at the rate of 17
km3 per year, covering the ocean
floor with basalt. Hawaii and
Iceland are two examples of the
accumulation of basalt piles.
Continental crust: 0.374%
of Earth's mass; depth of 0-50
kilometers (0 - 31 miles).
The continental crust contains
0.554% of the mantle-crust mass.
This is the outer part of the Earth
composed essentially of crystalline
rocks. These are low-density
buoyant minerals dominated
mostly by quartz (SiO2) and
feldspars (metal-poor silicates).
The crust (both oceanic and
continental) is the surface of the
Earth; as such, it is the coldest
part of our planet. Because cold
rocks deform slowly, we refer to
this rigid outer shell as the
lithosphere (the rocky or strong
layer).
The Lithosphere & Plate Tectonics

Oceanic Lithosphere
The rigid, outermost layer of the Earth comprising the crust and upper mantle is called
the lithosphere. New oceanic lithosphere forms through volcanism in the form of
fissures at mid-ocean ridges which are cracks that encircle the globe. Heat escapes the
interior as this new lithosphere emerges from below. It gradually cools, contracts and
moves away from the ridge, traveling across the seafloor to subduction zones in a
process called seafloor spreading. In time, older lithosphere will thicken and eventually
become more dense than the mantle below, causing it to descend (subduct) back into
the Earth at a steep angle, cooling the interior. Subduction is the main method of
cooling the mantle below 100 kilometers (62.5 miles). If the lithosphere is young and
thus hotter at a subduction zone, it will be forced back into the interior at a lesser angle.

Continental Lithosphere

The continental lithosphere is about 150 kilometers (93 miles) thick with a low-density
crust and upper-mantle that are permanently buoyant. Continents drift laterally along the
convecting system of the mantle away from hot mantle zones toward cooler ones, a
process known as continental drift. Most of the continents are now sitting on or moving
toward cooler parts of the mantle, with the exception of Africa. Africa was once the core
of Pangaea, a supercontinent that eventually broke into todays continents. Several
hundred million years prior to the formation of Pangaea, the southern continents -
Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, and India - were assembled together in
what is called Gondwana.

Plate tectonics involves the


formation, lateral movement,
interaction, and destruction of the
lithospheric plates. Much of Earth's
internal heat is relieved through this
process and many of Earth's large
structural and topographic features are
consequently formed. Continental rift
valleys and vast plateaus of basalt are created at plate break up when magma ascends
from the mantle to the ocean floor, forming new crust and separating midocean ridges.
Plates collide and are destroyed as they descend at subduction zones to produce deep
ocean trenches, strings of volcanoes, extensive transform faults, broad linear rises, and
folded mountain belts. Earth's lithosphere presently is divided into eight large plates with
about two dozen smaller ones that are drifting above the mantle at the rate of 5 to 10
centimeters (2 to 4 inches) per year. The eight large plates are the African, Antarctic,
Eurasian, Indian-Australian, Nazca, North American, Pacific, and South American
plates. A few of the smaller plates are the Anatolian, Arabian, Caribbean, Cocos,
Philippine, and Somali plates.
Isostasy

Isostasy, ideal theoretical balance of all large portions of Earths lithosphere as though
they were floating on the denser underlying layer, the asthenosphere, a section of the
upper mantle composed of weak, plastic rock that is about 110 km (70 miles) below the
surface. Isostasy controls the regional elevations of continents and ocean floors in
accordance with the densities of their underlying rocks. Imaginary columns of equal
cross-sectional area that rise from the asthenosphere to the surface are assumed to
have equal weights everywhere on Earth, even though their constituents and the
elevations of their upper surfaces are significantly different. This means that an excess
of mass seen as material above sea level, as in a mountain system, is due to a deficit of
mass, or low-density roots, below sea level. Therefore, high mountains have low-density
roots that extend deep into the underlying mantle. The concept of isostasy played an
important role in the development of the theory of plate tectonics.

In 1735, expeditions over the Andes led by Pierre Bouguer, a French photometrist and
the first to measure the horizontal gravitational pull of mountains, noted that the Andes
could not represent a protuberance of rock sitting on a solid platform. If it did, then a
plumb-line should be deflected from the true vertical by an amount proportional to the
gravitational attraction of the mountain range. The deflection was less than that which
was anticipated. About a century later, similar discrepancies were observed by Sir
George Everest, surveyor general of India, in surveys south of the Himalayas, indicating
a lack of compensating mass beneath the visible mountain ranges.

In the theory of isostasy, a mass above sea level is supported below sea level, and
there is thus a certain depth at which the total weight per unit area is equal all around
the Earth; this is known as the depth of compensation. The depth of compensation was
taken to be 113 km (70 miles) according to the Hayford-Bowie concept, named for
American geodesists John Fillmore Hayford and William Bowie. Owing to changing
tectonic environments, however, perfect isostasy is approached but rarely attained, and
some regions, such as oceanic trenches and high plateaus, are not isostatically
compensated.

The Airy hypothesis says that Earths crust is a more rigid shell floating on a more liquid
substratum of greater density. Sir George Biddell Airy, an English mathematician and
astronomer, assumed that the crust has a uniform density throughout. The thickness of
the crustal layer is not uniform, however, and so this theory supposes that the thicker
parts of the crust sink deeper into the substratum, while the thinner parts are buoyed up
by it. According to this hypothesis, mountains have roots below the surface that are
much larger than their surface expression. This is analogous to an iceberg floating on
water, in which the greater part of the iceberg is underwater.

The Pratt hypothesis, developed by John Henry Pratt, English mathematician and
Anglican missionary, supposes that Earths crust has a uniform thickness below sea
level with its base everywhere supporting an equal weight per unit area at a depth of
compensation. In essence, this says that areas of the Earth of lesser density, such as
mountain ranges, project higher above sea level than do those of greater density. The
explanation for this was that the mountains resulted from the upward expansion of
locally heated crustal material, which had a larger volume but a lower density after it
had cooled.

The Heiskanen hypothesis, developed by Finnish geodesist Weikko Aleksanteri


Heiskanen, is an intermediate, or compromise, hypothesis between Airys and Pratts.
This hypothesis says that approximately two-thirds of the topography is compensated
by the root formation (the Airy model) and one-third by Earths crust above the boundary
between the crust and the
substratum (the Pratt model).

Insight:

By understanding the theory of Isostasy, now I understand that the


density of the Earths crust is uniform throughout. This means that the total
weight per unit area is equal all around the Earth- which is known as the depth
of compensation.

The process of isostasy or isostatic change can be compared to a boat. Just


as a boat sinks or rises with changes in weight, so does the crust sink or rises
with the changes in weight. Plate tectonics builds mountains and the extra
weight causes the crust to sink. As erosion occurs the weight of the mountains
decreases and the crust rises again. This process is called isostasy or
isostatic change.