Earth's Interior

Earth's interior is made up of a series of layers that sit below the surface crust. In order of depth, these layers include the solid, but flowing mantle, the liquid outer core and the solid iron outer core, which helps create Earth's protective magnetic field. The layers can also be categorized into the rigid outer lithosphere (which includes the crust and top portion of the mantle and makes up Earth's tectonic plates) and the athenosphere, the portion of the mantle that is solid, but made up of hot, weak, flowing rock. Read about the latest research on Earth's layers below.
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Latest Articles

Gravity Moved Continents on Early Earth
The Eastern Hemisphere of Earth can be seen in this "blue marble" view captured by NASA's Suomi NPP satellite.
September 17th, 2014
Continents move, but what got them going? A new computer model shows it was gravity. Whole continents flattened out under their own weight.
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Missing Xenon Gas Found in Earth's Core
An illustration of Earth's layers, including the crust, mantle and core.
April 21st, 2014
Mysteriously, most of the expected levels of xenon are missing from Earth's atmosphere. Now, researchers might have the answer: The noble gas, which usually doesn't bond with other atoms, may chemically react with iron and nickel in Earth's core.
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Tiny Crystal Defects Help Drive Plate Tectonics
Olivine deformation
February 27th, 2014
Researchers recently discovered a new crystal defect in olivine that helps explain how the mantle drives plate tectonics.
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Quickly Rising Antarctica Suggests 'Runny' Earth
Antarctica
May 16th, 2014
Antarctica is rising much faster than expected, revealing that the hot rock of the mantle hundreds of miles below the icy continent is flowing much faster than expected, and so rebounding quickly to the loss of glacial ice, researchers say.
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Early Earth's Crust Was a Drippy, Hot Mess
The processes of the Earth's mantle
January 7th, 2014
Chunks of the thick crust that covered the early Earth may have dripped down into the mantle layer below, shedding light on how the Earth's interior behaved early in Earth's history.
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Magma Ocean Could Have Given Early Earth Magnetic Field
The Earth's magnetic field, magnetic poles and geographic poles.
December 6th, 2013
Earth may have had a protective magnetic field earlier than previously thought, generated not by its liquid outer core as happens today, but by a magma ocean sitting above the core, a new study suggests.
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Buried 'Soda Fizz' May Solve Mystery of Coasting Tectonic Plates
Plate tectonics
April 30th, 2014
New findings could help explain the motion of the giant tectonic plates that surf over Earth's mantle, the movements of which explain how the continents have drifted over time as well as disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
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Rare Diamond Reveals Earth's Interior is All Wet
ringwoodite diamond
March 12th, 2014
A battered diamond that survived a trip from "hell" confirms a long-held theory: Earth's mantle holds an ocean's worth of water.
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Sparkling Discovery: Antarctica May Contain Diamonds
Diamonds
December 18th, 2013
A type of rock that often contains diamonds has been found in Antarctica — suggesting the shiny gems could also be found there — but diamond mining in the southernmost continent is impractical.
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