lithosphere


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lithosphere

(lĭth`əsfēr'), brittle uppermost shell of the earth, broken into a number of tectonic plates. The lithosphere consists of the heavy oceanic and lighter continental crusts, and the uppermost portion of the mantlemantle,
portion of the earth's interior lying beneath the crust and above the core. No direct observation of the mantle, or its upper boundary, has been made; its boundaries have been determined solely by abrupt changes in the velocities and character of seismic waves passing
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. The crust and mantle are separated by the Moho or Mohorovicic discontinuity (see earthearth,
in geology and astronomy, 3rd planet of the solar system and the 5th largest, the only planet definitely known to support life. Gravitational forces have molded the earth, like all celestial bodies, into a spherical shape.
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 and seismologyseismology
, scientific study of earthquakes and related phenomena, including the propagation of waves and shocks on or within the earth by natural or artificially generated seismic signals.
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). The thickness of the lithosphere varies from to around 1 mi (1.6 km) at the mid-ocean ridges to approximately 80 mi (130 km) beneath older oceanic crust. The thickness of the continental lithospheric plates is probably around 185 mi (300 km) but is uncertain due to the irregular presence of the Moho discontinuity. The lithosphere rests on a soft layer called the asthenosphereasthenosphere
, region in the upper mantle of the earth's interior, characterized by low-density, semiplastic (or partially molten) rock material chemically similar to the overlying lithosphere.
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, over which the plates of the lithosphere glide. See plate tectonicsplate tectonics,
theory that unifies many of the features and characteristics of continental drift and seafloor spreading into a coherent model and has revolutionized geologists' understanding of continents, ocean basins, mountains, and earth history.
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.
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lithosphere

(lÿ -th'o-sfeer) See Earth.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lithosphere

 

the outer sphere of the “solid” earth, including the earth’s crust and the upper layer of the mantle (substratum). The lower boundary of the lithosphere runs above the asthenosphere. Until the 1960’s “lithosphere” was a synonym for the earth’s crust.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

lithosphere

[′lith·ə‚sfir]
(geology)
The rigid outer crust of rock on the earth about 50 miles (80 kilometers) thick, above the asthenosphere. Also known as oxysphere.
Since the development of plate tectonics theory, a term referring to the rigid, upper 60 miles (100 kilometers) of the crust and upper mantle, above the asthenosphere.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Estimates of the effective elastic thickness of the continental lithosphere from Bouguer and Free Air gravity anomalies, Journal of Geophysical Research, 102, No.
On a globe of constant volume, the creation of lithosphere at constructive margins (where two plates move apart) is balanced by the destruction of lithosphere at destructive margins (where two plates collide).
Existing model calculations, however, were based on a consideration of the ice cap and considered the effect of the lithosphere, i.e.
Key words: Romeral Fault System, Geodynamic, Caribbean Plate, Lithosphere Delamination, Seismotectonics.
The lithosphere plates are dragged along by the horizontal flow of the asthenosphere like a conveyor belt.
When the lithosphere is subject to a horizontal extensional force it will stretch, becoming thinner.
Earthquakes are seismic activity in the Earth's lithosphere. This release of energy occurs most frequently at the boundaries of the tectonic plates.
To the east, the east-striking Makran belt is the emerged portion of an accretionary prism resulting from the subduction of the Oman Gulf oceanic lithosphere beneath the Iranian Plate (Byrne et al., 1992; McCal, 1997; Kopp et al., 2000).
The theory of plate tectonics is that the lithosphere (the outer layer of the earth) is separated into many pieces, or plates, that shift across the earth's surface like cracked ice on a lake.
Our climate system also includes the oceans and other bodies of water (called the hydrosphere), ice and snow (the cryosphere), plants and animals (the biosphere), soils (the pedosphere) and rocks (the lithosphere).
On Earth, the lithosphere is the rocky crust and upper mantle, divided into tectonic plates.
The Earth system is defined by the researchers as the biosphere, including interactions and feedbacks with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and upper lithosphere. But over the past six decades human forces "have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change in the Earth system," the authors wrote, giving rise to a period known as the Anthropocene.