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Young Voices for the Planet DVD in our online store includes 8 films where students speak out and take action on climate change.

Earth's Interior and Surface

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 Earthís surface form other surface features such as mountains, earthquakes and volcanoes.

Rainforest vegetation on the Caribbean island of Dominica.† <a href="/earth/rainforest.html&edu=elem">Tropical
  rainforests</a> are home to thousands of species of animals, plants, fungi and
  microbes. Scientists suspect that there are many species living in
  rainforests have not yet been found or described. Rainforests get their name
  because they receive a lot of rain - an average of 80 inches (203 cm) a year!<p><small><em>     NBII Digital Image Library - Randolph Femmer, photographer</em></small></p>Gold or Foolís Gold? There are two easy ways to tell Foolís Gold, the
  <a
  href="/earth/geology/min_intro.html&edu=elem">mineral</a>
  <a
  href="/earth/geology/min_pyrite.html&edu=elem">pyrite</a>,
  from real gold. First, pyrite leaves a black streak on a white tile whereas
  gold leaves, well, a gold streak. Also, pyrite is much harder than gold.
  Pyrite is made up of the <a
  href="/earth/geology/periodic_table.html&edu=elem">elements</a>
  iron (Fe) and sulfur (S).† Both of these two elements are among the <a
  href="/earth/geology/crust_elements.html&edu=elem">eight
  most abundant</a> in the <a
  href="/earth/interior/earths_crust.html&edu=elem">Earthís
  crust</a>.<p><small><em> Courtesy of Corel</em></small></p>This is the Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona. The diameter is 1.2
  kilomters, and it is 49,000 years old. Compared with other planets, <a
  href="/earth/Interior_Structure/crater.html&edu=elem">impact
  craters</a> are rare <a
  href="/earth/Interior_Structure/surface_features.html&edu=elem">surface
  features</a> on Earth. There are two main reasons for the low number of
  craters. One is that our <a
  href="/earth/Atmosphere/overview.html&edu=elem">atmosphere</a>
  burns up most <a
  href="/our_solar_system/meteors/meteors.html&edu=elem">meteoroids</a>
  before they reach the surface. The other reason is that Earth's surface is <a
  href="/earth/interior/plate_tectonics.html&edu=elem">continually
  active</a> and erases the marks of craters over time.<p><small><em>D. Roddy and LPI</em></small></p>Shortly after 5 am on the 18<sup>th</sup> of April in 1906, most people in
  San Francisco, CA were awoken by a sudden jolt.† The Earth shook violently in
  a strong <a
  href="/earth/geology/quake_1.html&edu=elem">earthquake</a>.
  It lasted for only about a minute, but caused a lot of damage which destroyed
  much of the city. This photograph was taken just after an earthquake and
  fires had ravaged the city.<p><small><em>                                                    National Archives Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives</em></small></p>Hydrothermal vents in the deep ocean are located at tectonic <a
  href="/earth/interior/seafloor_spreading.html&edu=elem">spreading
  ridges</a>. While most of the water in the deep ocean is close to freezing,
  the water at hydrothermal vents is very hot and laden with chemicals.† In
  this <a
  href="/earth/extreme_environments.html&edu=elem">extreme
  environment</a>, certain species of <a
  href="/earth/Life/archaea.html&edu=elem">Archaea</a>
  and <a
  href="/earth/Life/classification_eubacteria.html&edu=elem">Eubacteria</a>
  thrive, enabling a unique <a
  href="/earth/Water/life_deep.html&edu=elem">food
  chain</a> including fish, shrimp, giant tubeworms, mussels, crabs, and clams.<p><small><em> Courtesy of NASA</em></small></p>Sinkholes are <a href="/teacher_resources/main/frameworks/esl_bi8.html&edu=elem">natural hazards</a> in many places around the world. They are formed when water dissolves underlying <a href="/earth/Water/carbonates.html&edu=elem">limestone</a>, leading to collapse of the surface.  Hydrologic conditions such as a lack of rainfall, lowered water levels, or excessive rainfall can all contribute to sinkhole development. On 2/28/2013, a sinkhole suddenly developed under the house outside of Tampa, Florida, leading to the tragic death of its occupant, Jeff Bush.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Southwest Florida Water Management District</em></small></p>

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF