The mantle is the mostly-solid bulk of Earth"s interior. The mantle lies in between Earth"s dense, super-heated core and also its thin external layer, the crust. The mantle is around 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) thick, and makes increase a chuck 84% that Earth’s total volume.

You are watching: State of matter of the mantle

The mantle is the mostly-solid mass of Earth’s interior. The mantle lies between Earth’s dense, super-heated core and also its thin outer layer, the crust. The mantle is around 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) thick, and makes increase a chuck 84% that Earth’s complete volume.
As Earth started to take it shape about 4.5 billion year ago, iron and also nickel easily separated from various other rocks and also minerals to type the core of the new planet. The molten product that surrounded the main point was the early on mantle.
Over numerous years, the mantle cooled. Water trapped within minerals erupted through lava, a procedure called “outgassing.” As much more water was outgassed, the mantle solidified.
The rocks that comprise Earth’s mantle are largely silicates—a wide selection of compounds that share a silicon and oxygen structure. Common silicates found in the mantle encompass olivine, garnet, and also pyroxene. The other major form of rock uncovered in the mantle is magnesium oxide. Various other mantle elements include iron, aluminum, calcium, sodium, and also potassium.
The temperature of the mantle varies greatly, from 1000° Celsius (1832° Fahrenheit) close to its boundary through the crust, to 3700° Celsius (6692° Fahrenheit) near its boundary with the core. In the mantle, heat and also pressure typically increase with depth. The geothermal gradient is a measurement of this increase. In many places, the geothermal gradient is about 25° Celsius per kilometer of depth (1° Fahrenheit per 70 feet the depth).
The viscosity the the mantle also varies greatly. It is mostly solid rock, yet less viscous at tectonic key boundaries and also mantle plumes. Mantle rocks there are soft and able to relocate plastically (over the food of numerous years) at an excellent depth and also pressure.
The transport of heat and material in the mantle helps recognize the landscape of Earth. Task in the mantle cd driver plate tectonics, contributing to volcanoes, seafloor spreading, earthquakes, and also orogeny (mountain-building).
The mantle is split into number of layers: the upper mantle, the shift zone, the lower mantle, and D” (D double-prime), the strange an ar where the mantle meets the outer core.
The upper mantle extends indigenous the crust come a depth of about 410 kilometers (255 miles). The top mantle is mainly solid, however its an ext malleable regions add to tectonic activity.
Two components of the top mantle are often recognized as unique regions in Earth’s interior: the lithosphere and also the asthenosphere.
The lithosphere is the solid, outer component of the Earth, expanding to a depth of about 100 kilometers (62 miles). The lithosphere includes both the crust and the brittle upper section of the mantle. The lithosphere is both the coolest and also the most rigid that Earth’s layers.
The most well-known feature associated with Earth’s lithosphere is tectonic activity. Tectonic activity describes the communication of the substantial slabs that lithosphere dubbed tectonic plates. The lithosphere is divided into 15 major tectonic plates: the north American, Caribbean, southern American, Scotia, Antarctic, Eurasian, Arabian, African, Indian, Philippine, Australian, Pacific, Juan de Fuca, Cocos, and Nazca.
The division in the lithosphere between the crust and also the mantle is dubbed the Mohorovicic discontinuity, or simply the Moho. The Moho does not exist at a uniform depth, due to the fact that not all areas of planet are equally balanced in isostatic equilibrium. Isostasy explains the physical, chemical, and also mechanical differences that permit the crust to “float” on the sometimes more malleable mantle. The Moho is found at around 8 kilometers (5 miles) in ~ the s and about 32 kilometers (20 miles) in ~ continents.
Different types of rocks differentiate lithospheric crust and also mantle. Lithospheric crust is characterized by gneiss (continental crust) and gabbro (oceanic crust). Listed below the Moho, the mantle is identified by peridotite, a absent mostly made up of the minerals olivine and also pyroxene.
The asthenosphere is the denser, weaker layer beneath the lithospheric mantle. The lies between around 100 kilometers (62 miles) and also 410 kilometers (255 miles) beneath Earth’s surface. The temperature and also pressure of the asthenosphere space so high that rocks soften and partly melt, becoming semi-molten.
The asthenosphere is much more ductile than either the lithosphere or lower mantle. Ductility actions a hard material’s capacity to deform or stretch under stress. The asthenosphere is generally an ext viscous 보다 the lithosphere, and the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB) is the point where geologists and also rheologists—scientists who examine the circulation of matter—mark the distinction in ductility in between the two layers the the upper mantle.
The really slow motion of lithospheric plates “floating” ~ above the asthenosphere is the cause of bowl tectonics, a procedure associated v continental drift, earthquakes, the formation of mountains, and also volcanoes. In fact, the lava the erupts from volcano fissures is in reality the asthenosphere itself, melted right into magma.
Of course, tectonic plates room not yes, really floating, due to the fact that the asthenosphere is no liquid. Tectonic key are only unstable at your boundaries and also hot spots.
From around 410 kilometers (255 miles) to 660 kilometers (410 miles) beneath Earth’s surface, rocks experience radical transformations. This is the mantle’s shift zone.
In the shift zone, rocks execute not melt or disintegrate. Instead, your crystalline structure alters in important ways. Rocks end up being much, much an ext dense.
The change zone prevents huge exchanges the material in between the upper and lower mantle. Some geologists think the the increased density of rocks in the shift zone prevents subducted slabs indigenous the lithosphere native falling more into the mantle. These substantial pieces that tectonic key stall in the change zone for countless years prior to mixing with various other mantle rock and also eventually returning to the top mantle as component of the asthenosphere, erupting as lava, becoming part of the lithosphere, or emerging as brand-new oceanic crust at sites of seafloor spreading.
Some geologists and rheologists, however, think subducted slabs have the right to slip beneath the transition zone to the lower mantle. Other evidence says that the change layer is permeable, and the upper and also lower mantle exchange some amount of material.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the mantle’s transition zone is its diversity of water. Crystals in the shift zone hold as much water as all the seas on Earth’s surface.
Water in the transition zone is not “water” as we recognize it. It is not liquid, vapor, solid, or also plasma. Instead, water exists together hydroxide. Hydroxide is one ion of hydrogen and oxygen v a an adverse charge. In the change zone, hydroxide ions space trapped in the crystalline framework of rocks such as ringwoodite and also wadsleyite. These minerals are formed from olivine at an extremely high temperatures and also pressure.
Near the bottom the the change zone, boosting temperature and also pressure change ringwoodite and also wadsleyite. Their crystal structures room broken and hydroxide escapes as “melt.” Melt particles circulation upwards, toward minerals that deserve to hold water. This permits the transition zone to maintain a constant reservoir the water.
Geologists and rheologists think that water gone into the mantle from Earth’s surface throughout subduction. Subduction is the process in i beg your pardon a dense tectonic key slips or melts in ~ a much more buoyant one. Most subduction happens together an oceanic plate slips beneath a less-dense plate. In addition to the rocks and minerals the the lithosphere, tons of water and carbon are likewise transported to the mantle. Hydroxide and also water are went back to the upper mantle, crust, and even setting through mantle convection, volcanic eruptions, and also seafloor spreading.
The lower mantle extends from about 660 kilometers (410 miles) to about 2,700 kilometers (1,678 miles) beneath Earth’s surface. The reduced mantle is hotter and also denser than the upper mantle and shift zone.
The reduced mantle is much much less ductile than the top mantle and change zone. Although warm usually corresponds to softening rocks, intense press keeps the reduced mantle solid.
Geologists do not agree around the framework of the lower mantle. Part geologists think that subducted slabs the lithosphere have resolved there. Various other geologists think that the lower mantle is entirely unmoving and also does not also transfer warm by convection.
Beneath the reduced mantle is a shallow region called D"", or “d double-prime.” In part areas, D’’ is a almost razor-thin boundary with the outer core. In other areas, D’’ has actually thick accumulations of iron and also silicates. In still various other areas, geologists and seismologists have detected areas of substantial melt.
The unpredictable motion of products in D’’ is affected by the lower mantle and also outer core. The stole of the outer core influences the formation of a diapir, a dome-shaped geologic feature (igneous intrusion) where more fluid material is compelled into brittle overlying rock. The stole diapir emits heat and also may release a huge, bulging pulse that either product or energy—just favor a Lava Lamp. This power blooms upward, transferring warmth to the reduced mantle and shift zone, and maybe also erupting together a mantle plume.
At the base of the mantle, around 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) below the surface, is the core-mantle boundary, or CMB. This point, called the Gutenberg discontinuity, point out the finish of the mantle and the beginning of Earth’s liquid outer core.
Mantle convection describes the motion of the mantle together it transfers warmth from the white-hot main point to the brittle lithosphere. The mantle is heated native below, cooled from above, and its overall temperature to reduce over long periods that time. All these aspects contribute come mantle convection.
Convection currents deliver hot, buoyant magma come the lithosphere in ~ plate boundaries and hot spots. Convection currents additionally transfer denser, cooler product from the crust to Earth’s inner through the procedure of subduction.
Earth"s warm budget, which actions the circulation of thermal energy from the main point to the atmosphere, is overcame by mantle convection. Earth’s heat spending plan drives many geologic procedures on Earth, return its energy output is dwarfed by solar radiation at the surface.
Geologists conflict whether mantle convection is “whole” or “layered.” Whole-mantle convection defines a long, long recycling process involving the upper mantle, change zone, lower mantle, and also even D’’. In this model, the mantle convects in a single process. A subducted slab the lithosphere may slowly slip into the upper mantle and also fall to the transition zone because of its relative density and coolness. Over countless years, it might sink further into the lower mantle. Convection currents may then carry the hot, buoyant material in D’’ earlier through the other layers of the mantle. Several of that material may even emerge as lithosphere again, as it is spilled onto the crust v volcanic eruptions or seafloor spreading.
Layered-mantle convection describes two processes. Plumes of superheated mantle product may bubble up indigenous the lower mantle and heat a an ar in the transition zone before falling back. Above the change zone, convection may be influenced by warmth transferred native the reduced mantle and also discrete convection currents in the top mantle propelled by subduction and seafloor spreading. Mantle plumes emanating indigenous the upper mantle might gush up v the lithosphere as warm spots.
A mantle plume is an upwelling the superheated absent from the mantle. Mantle plumes space the likely reason of “hot spots,” volcanic regions not created by bowl tectonics. Together a mantle plume get the top mantle, the melts right into a diapir. This molten product heats the asthenosphere and lithosphere, triggering volcanic eruptions. These volcanic eruptions do a minor contribution to warmth loss indigenous Earth’s interior, although tectonic activity at plate borders is the leading reason of such heat loss.
The Hawaiian warm spot, in the middle of the north Pacific Ocean, sits over a likely mantle plume. As the Pacific plate move in a normally northwestern motion, the Hawaiian warm spot remains relatively fixed. Geologists think this has permitted the Hawaiian hot spot to create a series of volcanoes, indigenous the 85-million-year-old Meiji Seamount close to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, to the Loihi Seamount, a submarine volcano south-east of the “Big Island” of Hawaii. Loihi, a just 400,000 year old, will certainly eventually end up being the newest Hawaiian island.
Geologists have identified two so-called “superplumes.” this superplumes, or big low shear velocity provinces (LLSVPs), have actually their origins in the melt material of D’’. The Pacific LLSVP influences geology throughout many of the southerly Pacific ocean (including the Hawaiian warm spot). The african LLSVP impacts the geology throughout most of southern and also western Africa.
Geologists think mantle plumes may be affected by countless different factors. Some might pulse, if others might be cook continually. Part may have a solitary diapir, while others may have actually multiple “stems.” some mantle plumes may arise in the middle of a tectonic plate, if others might be “captured” through seafloor spreading zones.
Some geologists have identified an ext than a thousands mantle plumes. Some geologists think mantle plumes don’t exist at all. Until tools and modern technology allow geologists to an ext thoroughly check out the mantle, the debate will continue.
The mantle has never been directly explored. Even the most innovative drilling devices has no reached beyond the crust.
Drilling all the way down to the Moho (the division between the Earth"s crust and also mantle) is vital scientific milestone, but despite years of effort, nobody has actually yet succeeded. In 2005, scientists with the combined Ocean Drilling project drilled 1,416 meters (4,644 feet) below the phibìc Atlantic seafloor and also claimed to have come within just 305 meters (1,000 feet) the the Moho.
Many geologists research the mantle by analyzing xenoliths. Xenoliths room a kind of intrusion—a rock trapped inside another rock.
The xenoliths that administer the most information about the mantle room diamonds. Diamonds kind under really unique conditions: in the upper mantle, at the very least 150 kilometers (93 miles) beneath the surface. Above depth and pressure, the carbon crystallizes as graphite, no diamond. Diamonds are lugged to the surface in explosive volcanic eruptions, developing “diamond pipes” the rocks dubbed kimberlites and also lamprolites.
The diamonds themselves room of much less interest come geologists 보다 the xenoliths part contain. This intrusions are minerals indigenous the mantle, trapped within the rock-hard diamond. Diamond intrusions have allowed scientists come glimpse as far as 700 kilometers (435 miles) beneath Earth’s surface—the lower mantle.
Xenolith studies have revealed the rocks in the deep mantle space most most likely 3-billion-year old slabs the subducted seafloor. The diamond intrusions include water, ocean sediments, and also even carbon.
Most mantle research studies are conducted by measuring the spread out of shock tide from earthquakes, referred to as seismic waves. The seismic waves measured in mantle researches are referred to as body waves, because these tide travel v the human body of the Earth. The velocity of human body waves differs v density, temperature, and kind of rock.
There space two species of human body waves: major waves, or P-waves, and an additional waves, or S-waves. P-waves, likewise called press waves, are formed by compressions. Sound waves room P-waves—seismic P-waves are just far too short a frequency for civilization to hear. S-waves, also called shear waves, measure activity perpendicular come the power transfer. S-waves are unable come transmit with fluids or gases.
Instruments placed around the world measure these waves together they come at different points ~ above the Earth’s surface after an earthquake. P-waves (primary waves) normally arrive first, if s-waves arrive quickly after. Both body waves “reflect” off different species of rocks in various ways. This allows seismologists come identify various rocks current in Earth’s crust and also mantle far beneath the surface. Seismic reflections, for instance, are offered to identify surprise oil deposits deep listed below the surface.
Sudden, predictable alters in the velocities of body waves are called “seismic discontinuities.” The Moho is a discontinuity noting the border of the crust and also upper mantle. The so-called “410-kilometer discontinuity” point out the border of the change zone.
The Gutenberg discontinuity is much more popularly recognized as the core-mantle boundary (CMB). At the CMB, S-waves, which can’t proceed in liquid, all of sudden disappear, and also P-waves space strongly refracted, or bent. This cautions seismologists that the solid and also molten framework of the mantle has actually given method to the fiery liquid of the external core.
Cutting-edge technology has allowed modern geologists and also seismologists to create mantle maps. Many mantle maps display seismic velocities, revealing fads deep below Earth’s surface.
Geoscientists hope that sophisticated mantle maps have the right to plot the human body waves the as many as 6,000 earthquakes v magnitudes of at the very least 5.5. These mantle maps may have the ability to identify old slabs the subducted material and also the an accurate position and movement that tectonic plates. Numerous geologists think mantle maps might even carry out evidence because that mantle plumes and their structure.

The mantle, in between the brittle crust and also super-dense core, renders up a whopping 84% the Earth’s total volume.

Illustration through Ewalde1, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

Some mantle maps display screen electrical conductivity, no seismic waves. Through mapping disturbances in electrical patterns, scientists have actually helped identify hidden “reservoirs” that water in the mantle.
Explosions, as with earthquakes, cause seismic waves. Body waves from an effective nuclear explosions may have actually revealed clues around Earth’s interior—but together seismic study is prohibited as component of the considerable Nuclear Test half Treaty.
Earth is the only planet in our solar system with a continually active mantle. Mercury and also Mars have actually solid, unmoving internal structures. Venus has actually an energetic mantle, however the framework of its crust and atmosphere avoid it from changing the Venusian landscape very often.

type the mineral that is clear and, once viewed under a microscope, has a repeating pattern of atoms and also molecules.

dome-shaped geologic function (intrusion) where more fluid material is forced into brittle overlying rock.

dome-shaped geologic function (intrusion) where more fluid product is required into brittle overlying rock.

the sudden shaking of Earth"s crust led to by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.

measurement the the flow of thermal power from the main point to the atmosphere, dominated by absorbed and reflect solar radiation.

gradual adjust in temperature from the Earth"s core (hot) come its late (cool), around 25° Celsus per kilometer of depth (1° Fahrenheit every 70 feet of depth).

intensely hot an ar deep in ~ the earth that rises to just underneath the surface. Some warm spots develop volcanoes.

rock formation developed by magma together it is propelled from the Earth"s mantle into cracks or feet in the crust.

equilibrium the Earth"s crust, where the pressures tending to elevate landmasses balance those tending to boring them. Likewise called isostatic equilibrium.

chemical and also mechanical difference between the cool, rigid lithosphere and the warmer, more ductile asthenosphere.

(large short shear velocity province) seismically anomalous an ar at the deepest part of Earth"s mantle. Likewise called a superplume or thermo-chemical pile.

slow motion of Earth"s heavy mantle resulted in by convection currents transferring warmth from the inner of the planet to the surface.

fossil fuel created from the remains of marine plants and also animals. Additionally known as petroleum or crude oil.

seismic shock wave that to represent longitudinal motion. Additionally called a major wave or push wave.

any area on earth with one or much more common characteristics. Areas are the simple units that geography.

seismic shock wave that represents perpendicular motion. Also called a second wave or shear wave.

movement the tectonic plates bring about geologic activity such as volcanic eruptions and also earthquakes.

massive slab of solid rock made up of Earth"s lithosphere (crust and also upper mantle). Additionally called lithospheric plate.

areas in the Earth"s interior between the top mantle, near the Earth"s crust, and also the reduced mantle, close to the Earth"s core.

See more: Percent By Mass Of Mg And O In The Oxide, After That How Do I Find Percent Error/

an opened in the Earth"s crust, through which lava, ash, and also gases erupt, and likewise the cone developed by eruptions.


sign up with our neighborhood of educators and receive the latest information on national Geographic"s sources for you and your students.

Educational resources in her Inbox

sign up with our community of educators and receive the latest information on national Geographic"s resources for you and also your students.