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The Model Planet

Physical Properties

Diameter: 12,756 km at the equator

Physical Properties
The bulging at the equator and flattening at The poles is called OBLATENESS. Its due to the rotation of the planet. Earth is the most spherical of all the planets.

Physical Properties
Volume: 1.1 trillion cubic kilometers (km3)

Mass: 5.97 x 1024 kilograms

Physical Properties
Density: 5500 kg/m3 or 5.5 g/cm3
We compare the density of materials like rocks & metals to the density standard: WATER!

Waters density is 1.0 g/cm3

Physical Properties

Earth is a combination of rocks and metals.

How old is the Earth?

About 4.6 billion years.

How was the earth formed?

Accretion Differentiation Interior Structure Evidence

A rotating cloud of gas & dust: a nebula

Rotation causes the nebula to flatten

A star ignites in the center and a temperature gradient forms.

Solid chunks, called planetissimals, begin to condense close to the star.

Accretion Planetissimals begin to form near the sun.

Gravity attracts planetissimals into larger bodies. Planets begin to grow.

Differentiation As earth grows, its gravity grows too It pulls in other planetissimals, which impact its surface.

Differentiation The heat generated plus the heat generated by radioactive decay causes the entire earth to melt.

When the earth is molten, heavy elements (iron, nickel) sink to the interior. The lighter materials rise to the surface. The medium density rocks ends up in the middle. Layers form: core, mantle, crust.

Molten Earth, heated by impacts & radioactive decay.

Differentiated (layered) Earth after cooling.

Interior Structure
Inner Core -kept solid by immense pressure Outer Core - less pressure allows it to be a liquid Mantle
Asthenosphere Lithosphere


The difference between the mantle and the crust is based on chemical composition. The difference between the asthenosphere and the lithosphere is based on viscosity -the ability to flow under pressure.)

What evidence do we really have that the interior of the earth is the way we think it is? Deep mines are hot! Heat and molten material escape from volcanos and geysers. Earthquake waves

Earthquake Waves
When an earthquake occurs it produces 2 types of waves:
P or primary waves. These are waves of compression of the rock. They travel fastest. S for secondary or shear waves. The rock moves up & down or sideways.

Earthquake waves
P waves are capable of traveling through the mantle and cores. S waves cant travel through liquids, they stop when they hit the outer core.

Cornell Univ.

Earths Magnetic Field In the earth, electrical currents run through the molten core.

Earths Magnetic Field

The electrical currents within the earth cause earth to act like a gigantic electromagnetic generator. This is called the Dynamo Theory of Magnetic Field Generation.

Magnetic Field Structure The whole magnetic field is called the magnetosphere.

The magnetic field channels away the solar wind. Prevents erosion of the atmosphere.

Solar Wind Extremely hot, highenergy, charged particles given off by the sun.

How does the magnetic field protect us?

The magnetic field captures the solar wind and channels it around the earth. This is called the Van Allen Radiation Belt (V.A.R.B.)

The Atmosphere
Earths atmosphere is unlike any other planets in chemical composition.

Our current atmosphere is:

Chemical Composition Chemical Composition

 78% nitrogen (N)  21% oxygen (O)  1% argon (Ar), helium (He), carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O), and about 20 other rare gases.

Atmospheric Pressure
Pressure - downward push of the column of air above you. At earths surface, the air pressure is 14.7 pounds / square inch. Other units are 29.92 inches of mercury in a barometer.

The Atmospheres Structure

Earths atmosphere has both vertical and horizontal structure. Vertically, the atmosphere is divided into 4 layers. Horizontally, the atmosphere is divided into 6 circulation cells, 3 in the northern hemisphere & 3 in the southern.

4 Layers
Troposphere - weather layer. From the earths surface to 10 km up. It gets colder the higher up you go. Stratosphere - circulation layer. The jet stream and ozone layer are in this layer

Mesosphere - a middle layer, up to 75 km. Here the air pressure is only 1/10,000th of the pressure at the earths surface. . Thermosphere - the hot layer, up to 120 km. This is the outer edge of earths atmosphere.

How does the atmosphere affect the surface?

in 4 ways: 35% of the sunlight that hits the atmosphere is reflected back into space by clouds.

How does the atmosphere affect the surface?

33% of the sunlight is absorbed by gases and dust, but then is re-radiated as infrared (heat). Much of this infrared light goes back into space and is lost.

How does the atmosphere affect the surface?

Dust in the atmosphere also causes reddening, a process where the blue light is scattered, but red light is allowed to pass straight through.

The reddening effect.

Atmospheric Circulation

Earths atmosphere has 3 circulation cells in each hemisphere

How does the air circulate?

Warm air rises at the equator, cools off at high altitude, then falls back to the surface at 30o north latitude. It eventually circulates back to equator.

Atmospheric Circulation
The earths rotation causes the Coriolis Effect. This causes moving wind to turn or deflect to the right in the northern hemisphere. The circulation allows winds to move all the way around the globe.

Where did the atmosphere come from?

Some water and gases were contributed by comets, meteors, impacting on earths surface.

Where did the atmosphere come from?

But most of the atmosphere came from volcanic outgassing. Volcanoes release over 100 billion kilograms of water vapor and gases into the atmosphere every year.

Earth has had 3 atmospheres. 1st atmosphere The first atmosphere was hydrogen (H) and helium (He) from the original nebula. These gases were eventually lost to space.

atmosphere Heavy gases were left behind: nitrogen (N2) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

nd 2

rd 3


Photosynthetic bacteria use the CO2, & produced oxygen (O2).

Earths Geology
Earths surface changes by : Erosion and build up structures. Flowing water Flowing ice or lava. Subsurface movements of tectonic plates.