In collaboration with Dr. Christine Houser (@seismodoc), a specially appointed assistant Professor of solid Earth geophysics at the Earth-Life Science Institute in Japan, NASA Goddard Planetary Scientist Dr. James O’Donoghue (@physicsJ) created another amazing animation titled “Scale & Composition of Earth’s surface: Major constituents of the crust, water, and atmosphere” and published on his YouTube channel.

Scale & Composition of Earth’s surface: Major constituents of the crust, water, and atmosphere

The description of the video:

Dr. Christine strongly insisted the color of the mantle be accurately green, representing mostly olivine. We discussed blackbody radiation of the hot rock and whether or not it would glow red: it wouldn’t. The uppermost mantle is too cool, and the radiative transfer of heat (which dominates in that layer) is not efficient.

You may be surprised that Silicon dioxide has a similar size to the entire crust+water sphere. That’s just an illustration of the fact the volume increases as the cube of the radius. In fact, if you make the radius of a sphere just 26% larger the volume doubles! It’s also why the Earth looks relatively a similar size. This isn’t just a learning experience about Earth, but one of geometry.

Data: The Earth’s crust total mass is from Peterson & Depaulo’s (2007) Crust2.0 model results, and this was added to the total mass of all water from e.g. “How much water is there on Earth? (link)”. Compositional breakdown by mass % for the crust was found via Rudnick and Gao (2003). Spheres are shown factor in each compound’s density at 1 atmosphere of pressure, e.g. water is 1kg/m3 while SiO2 is 2.65kg/m3. Earth’s atmosphere was condensed into a sphere whose density is 0.9kg/m3 (above that of liquid nitrogen). Earth’s total mass is 5.97e24 kg, the crust is 2.77e22 kg.

Credits: Dr. Christine Houser. Earth imagery: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Geophysical Data Center, 2006, 2-minute Gridded Global Relief Data (ETOPO2v2)

The Blue Marble Next Generation data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC) and NASA’s Earth Observatory.

Major constituents of the Earth’s crust, water, and atmosphere

%’s of crust+water mass

Earth’s total mass is 5.97×1024 kg, the crust is 2.77×1022 kg

  • Water: 4.8% (1.32×1021 kg)
  • Silicon dioxide: 57.8% (1.60×1022 kg)
  • Aluminum oxide: 15.1% (4.2×1021 kg)
  • Calcium oxide: 6.1% (1.69×1021 kg)
  • Iron oxide: 4.9% (1.35×1021 kg)
  • Magnesium oxide: 4.5% (1.24×1021 kg)
  • Other: 6.9% (1.91×1021 kg)

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