MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Earth's internal structure, animated model. The main layers of the Earth peel off in sequence. First the crust opens to reveal the underlying mantle. The crust is around 40 kilometres thick in the continents, and as little as 5 kilometres thick in the deep ocean. Beneath the crust is the mantle (orange), a viscous layer of rock some 2900 kilometres deep. Beneath that is the outer core (yellow), which is a liquid composed of molten iron and nickel. Convection currents in these metals are responsible for producing the Earth's magnetic field. The outer core is around 2250 kilometres thick. Below it is the solid inner core (white), which is a hot, solid sphere of iron and nickel, some 1200 kilometres in radius, at a temperature of around 5500 degrees Celsius.
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