The Earth from space.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL
Surface and Interior of Earth
Earth, the largest rocky planet, was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. The Earth's interior is divided into four layers which is typical of rocky planets. It is cool on the surface but very hot deep inside the planet. The center, or core, is as hot as 9000 degrees F.
The Earth's surface is unique from the other planets because it is the only one with liquid water. Water helps to make surface features such as rivers, lakes and oceans. The moving plates of the Earth’s surface form other surface features such as mountains, earthquakes and volcanoes.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
You might also be interested in:
Many forces change the surface of the Earth over time. The largest force that changes our planet's surface is movement of Earth's outer layer in a process called plate tectonics. As shown in this picture,...more
The ground underfoot might seem like it's not going anywhere but it is. It moves. If it moves all of a sudden the ground shakes. That's an earthquake! Earthquakes happen as pieces of the Earth's crust...more
Ash is formed as a volcano erupts when rocks made by the volcano blow apart into millions of tiny pieces. The rocks are still very hot, because they just formed from lava. If the hot rocks come into contact...more
Cinder cones are simple volcanoes which have a cone shape and are not very big. Compare the size of this volcano to the strato-volcano in this image. They are usually made of piles of lava, not ash. During...more
Lava can move in two ways, wide flat lava flows, or through channels which squeeze the lava into a small area. The fastest lava flows move at about 6 mi/hr, an easy jog, but they average between 2/3 and...more
Many kinds of surface features are clues to a sliding lithosphere. Two types of features can form when plates move apart. At ocean ridges, the crust splits apart to make room for molten mantle rock. Continental...more
When magma is erupted onto the surface in the form of lava, it becomes silicate rock. With each different eruption of the volcano, lava which comes to the surface is made of slightly different chemicals,...more