Q:

What is the Earth's surface made of?

A:

Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water, while the remaining 30 percent consists of the seven continental landmasses. The Earth is unique among the known planets in that is has an abundance of liquid water.

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The outer layer of the Earth, known as the crust, was formed 4.5 billion years ago when lava cooled to create a hard surface. The crust is broken into several large continental plates that are in constant movement. These plates drift upon the asthenosphere of Earth's upper mantle, moving slowly in relation to each other. Earthquakes are the result of collision between these plates. Many of the Earth's land features, such as mountain ranges, are a result of their movement.

Earth's crust is made up of several different chemical elements. While iron, oxygen and silicon are the most abundant elements within the crust of the Earth, there are several other elements present in smaller quantities. While the crust is only 3 miles deep at its thinnest point below the oceans, it may be up to 46 miles in depth below the continents. The oceans that cover the vast majority of Earth's surface are thought to have formed by the impact of comets over millions of years.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How much water covers the Earth?

    A:

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 71 percent of the Earth is covered in water. The total volume of all the water is equal to around 332.5 million cubic miles.

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  • Q:

    Why is water clear?

    A:

    Water is clear because it is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, two elements that are invisible in their natural state; when combined, they remain colorless. When water has color, it is due to the addition of other particles, such as dirt or algae. The color of water is also affected by the portion of the light spectrum that it absorbs.

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  • Q:

    Where are geysers located?

    A:

    Geysers are located in areas where an underground water source can heat up enough to explode through an entrance to the surface. The presence of geothermal energy and fissures in the earth near tectonic plate boundaries create the ideal locations for geysers.

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  • Q:

    What causes temperatures to change on Earth?

    A:

    Some of the things that cause temperatures change on Earth include the greenhouse effect, the amount of heat from the sun reaching Earth, deforestation and changes in Earth's surface with regards to reflectivity. Temperature change on Earth has become a major topic of debate in recent years because of its negative effects.

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