Chapter

The Earth's Internal Energy

E. C. Pielou

in The Energy of Nature

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780226668062
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226668055 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226668055.003.0014
The Earth's Internal Energy

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The earth's structure consists of several layers in the form of spherical shells surrounding a core; the layers differ from each other chemically and physically. The outermost layer, which is not uniform, is the crust: oceanic crust, under the ocean floor, is a thin layer of relatively heavy rocks — chiefly basalt — whereas continental crust, which underlies continents and continental shelves, is a thicker layer of less dense rock — chiefly granite and related rocks. The next layer is the mantle. It is a ductile solid, consisting of silicate rock. Below the mantle is the core of the earth. It has two layers, an outer liquid layer encasing an inner solid layer. Nearly all the material of the earth's interior, except (perhaps) the solid iron of the inner core, moves constantly. All this movement consumes energy, and the earth possesses energy of several kinds — thermal energy, kinetic energy, and magnetic energy. This chapter begins by considering the thermal energy — heat — the primary source of which is radioactivity. An important secondary source is the residual heat remaining from the time of the earth's creation.

Keywords: crust; mantle; core; heat; thermal energy; radioactivity

Chapter.  3123 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biological Sciences

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