SCRIPT OF NARRATION The Crust

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1 Rocks and Minerals, Shaffer, Paul & Zim, Herbert, Racine, Wisconsin: Western Publishing Co, INC., ISBN This is an old book but is a valuable resource for the classroom. The book provides pictures of different rocks along with detailed descriptions. It is a good resource to that can help students identify rocks and minerals. Make it Work! Earth, Baker, Wendy & Haslam, Andrew, New York: Thomas Learning, ISBN This hands-on text has experiments that are easy to follow with excellent pictures. There are great lessons on Earth's layers, shifting plates and how to make a volcano. Atlas of Earth, by Stace, Alexa, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: AND Cartographic Publishers Ltd., ISBN This is a good resource to have handy in the classroom. It is an oversized book with excellent graphics and photos of Earth. Earth movements, building mountains and volcanoes are discussed. SCRIPT OF NARRATION Want to dig a hole all the way to the other side of the world? What an adventure? But before shoveling, talk to a geologist. Geologists know a lot about the inside of Earth and can help explain some of the amazing things you'll discover on the way down. The Crust Earth is made of layers. A thin coat of soil and water sit like make-up on the top layer, which we call the crust. You can dig down through soil only a short distance, perhaps less than half the length of a soccer field, before hitting the crust, which is a shell of rock surrounding the entire planet. 16

2 Like a slightly damaged eggshell, the crust is cracked. It's in about 20 pieces, which we call plates. The plates come in two varieties, ocean plates and continental plates. Ocean plates are about five miles/eight kilometers thick. Continental plates are many times thicker, but the rock is lighter in weight. Where ocean and continental plates overlap, continental plates usually ride on top, like oil on water. Going through Earth's rock crust is tough work. The world's best miners have been able to go down only about two miles or three kilometers. Toward the bottom of these mines a surprising thing happens, the crust gets warm. In fact, the mines need air conditioning. Deeper inside Earth, temperatures climb thousands of degrees. On the surface we don't feel this heat because the crust protects us from it. Why is it so hot inside Earth? Geologists list two main reasons. First, Earth formed long ago through a series of fiery collisions of tiny hot planets. Some of that early heat still remains. Second, new heat is created inside Earth through a process called radioactive decay. Together, radioactive decay and early heat make the inside of Earth up to 20 times hotter than the hottest kitchen oven. The Mantle Just below the crust - about 30 miles/45 kilometers down, the temperature is high enough to melt rock slightly, to make it soft and gooey. Geologists call this area with softened rock the asthenosphere. "A" means without; "sthenos" means strength. The asthenosphere has rock without strength, because it's weakened by heat. The asthenosphere belongs to a layer of Earth called the upper mantle. Below the asthenosphere, the upper mantle gradually hardens into solid rock. The hard portion of 17

3 the upper mantle and the stiff crust above are held together like a jelly sandwich by the gooey rock of the asthenosphere in between. Maybe by now you've given up plans to get a shovel. Fortunately, curious geologists have figured out what's down there without digging. One tool they've used a lot instead of a shovel is the seismograph, which records the energy waves of earthquakes. Seismographs reveal that right below the upper mantle lies another layer of rock - the lower mantle. The lower mantle carries earthquake shock waves in a different way than the upper mantle, and this shows up on seismographs. An earthquake here gives different kinds of readings to seismographs here and here. The difference between upper mantle and lower mantle rock is mostly caused by one thing: pressure. The weight of the crust and upper mantle presses down on the lower mantle. Gravity pulls everything to Earth's center. Below the line dividing the upper and lower mantles a sudden change takes place. Like water changing to ice because of cold, lower mantle rock changes form because of pressure. The Core The lower mantle goes deep into Earth, then meets the core. The core differs from the mantle because it is metal, not rock. The metal - especially iron - sank here while the Earth was still new and soft, because metal is heavier than rock. Like the mantle, the core is divided into two layers, inner and outer cores. The outer core is melted. The liquid metal is perhaps as thin as water, and circulates - or moves - around the inner 18

4 core. This circulation creates Earth's magnetic field, the force that makes a compass work. So the magnetic field people have used for centuries to explore the world comes from a part of the planet we will never visit. The inner core is also metal, but it is solid. As in the lower mantle, extreme pressure changes the form of the core's material. The pressure pressing in on the inner core is perhaps about the same as the pressure pressing out around an exploding atom bomb. The inner core's temperature nearly equals the surface of the sun. Conclusion From the center of Earth, any direction is up. To reach the surface you now work back through the solid metal inner core and melted metal outer core; through the very hard rock lower mantle and somewhat softer upper mantle; then through the aesthenoshere and the crust, and a thin icing of soil and water to finally reach fresh air. Along the way, heat rises with you. Heat from the middle of Earth rises all the way up to the bottom of the crust, where it has a surprising affect. The heat pushes plates around. The plates float slowly over the gooey rock of the asthenosphere like giant rafts. Though plates move only a couple of inches or few centimeters a year, the results are dramatic. Colliding plates cause earthquakes and push up mountains. Spreading plates let new resources from deep within earth flow upwards to fill the gap and renew the crust. The rising heat from deep within Earth also cause hotpots, geysers, and volcanoes. These are Earth's way of letting off a little steam. So even though we can't dig deep into Earth, we can still understand what's there. In part this is because the middle of Earth reaches up to us in many ways. Seismograph readings, magnetism, earthquakes, and 19

5 volcanoes all help show what amazing things lie buried between us and the other side of the world. Questions: True or False 1. Earth's thin shell of hard rock is called the crust. 2. The asthenosphere has soft rock that lacks strength. 3. Both layers of the mantle are mostly rock; both layer of the core are metal. 4. The middle of Earth is soft and spongy. 5. Heat rising from deep inside Earth can move the crust's plates. 20

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