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 and Composition of Earth’s surface: Major constituents of the crust, water, and atmosphere” and published on his YouTube channel.

Scale and 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 the 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 factors 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 5.97×1024 kg, the crust is 2.77×1022 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)

M. Özgür Nevres

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