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3: The Origin and Structure of Earth

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    Learning Objectives

    After reading this chapter you should be able to:

    • know the age of the universe, the solar system, and Earth
    • explain the processes responsible for the early formation of Earth
    • know the various layers of the Earth, including their composition
    • know the differences between oceanic and continental crust
    • explain the difference between lithosphere and asthenosphere
    • explain the concept of isostasy
    • explain how indirect methods can be used to investigate the interior of Earth

    To understand the geological processes occurring in the ocean, it is important to recognize some of the phenomena that led to the formation and structure of the Earth. In this chapter we will start at the very beginning, with a discussion of the Big Bang and the origin of the universe and our solar system. From there, we will investigate the formation of the Earth, and the reasons behind its interior and exterior structure. Finally, we will end the chapter by attempting to answer the question of how we can know what is happening deep within the Earth’s interior.

    Thumbnail: Diagram of the Earth. Image used with permission (CC-SA-BY 3.0; Kelvinsong).​​​​​​

    3: The Origin and Structure of Earth is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Paul Webb via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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