NCERT Textbook Chapter 3 - Interior Of The Earth, Class 11, Geography UPSC Notes | EduRev

Geography (Prelims) by Valor Academy

UPSC : NCERT Textbook Chapter 3 - Interior Of The Earth, Class 11, Geography UPSC Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


W
hat do you imagine about the nature
of the earth? Do you imagine it to be
a solid ball like cricket ball or a
hollow ball with a thick cover of rocks i.e.
lithosphere? Have you ever seen photographs
or images of a volcanic eruption on the
television screen? Can you recollect the
emergence of hot molten lava, dust, smoke, fire
and magma flowing out of the volcanic crater?
The interior  of the earth can be understood only
by indirect evidences as neither any one has nor
any one can reach the interior of the earth.
The configuration of the surface of the earth
is largely a product of the processes operating
in the interior of the earth. Exogenic as well as
endogenic processes are constantly shaping
the landscape. A proper understanding of the
physiographic character of a region remains
incomplete if the effects of endogenic processes
are ignored. Human life is largely influenced
by the physiography of the region. Therefore,
it is necessary that one gets acquainted with
the forces that influence landscape
development. To understand why the earth
shakes or how a tsunami wave is generated, it
is necessary that we know certain details of the
interior of the earth. In the previous chapter,
you have noted that the earth-forming
materials have been distributed in the form of
layers from the crust to the core. It is interesting
to know how scientists have gathered
information about these layers and what are
the characteristics of each of these layers. This
is exactly what this chapter deals with.
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE INTERIOR
The earth’s radius is 6,370 km. No one can
reach the centre of the earth and make
observations or collect samples of the material.
Under such conditions, you may wonder how
scientists tell us about the earth’s interior and
the type of materials that exist at such depths.
Most of our knowledge about the interior of
the earth is largely based on estimates and
inferences. Yet, a part of the information is
obtained through direct observations and
analysis of materials.
Direct Sources
The most easily available solid earth material
is surface rock or the rocks we get from mining
areas. Gold mines in South Africa are as deep
as 3 - 4 km. Going beyond this depth is not
possible as it is very hot at this depth. Besides
mining, scientists have taken up a number of
projects to penetrate deeper depths to explore
the conditions in the crustal portions. Scientists
world over are working on two major projects
such as “Deep Ocean Drilling Project” and
“Integrated Ocean Drilling Project”. The
deepest drill at Kola, in Arctic Ocean, has so
far reached a depth of 12 km. This and many
deep drilling projects have provided large
volume of information through the analysis of
materials collected at different depths.
Volcanic eruption forms another source of
obtaining direct information. As and when the
molten material (magma) is thrown onto the
surface of the earth, during volcanic eruption
it becomes available for laboratory analysis.
However, it is difficult to ascertain the depth of
the source of such magma.
CHAPTER
Page 2


W
hat do you imagine about the nature
of the earth? Do you imagine it to be
a solid ball like cricket ball or a
hollow ball with a thick cover of rocks i.e.
lithosphere? Have you ever seen photographs
or images of a volcanic eruption on the
television screen? Can you recollect the
emergence of hot molten lava, dust, smoke, fire
and magma flowing out of the volcanic crater?
The interior  of the earth can be understood only
by indirect evidences as neither any one has nor
any one can reach the interior of the earth.
The configuration of the surface of the earth
is largely a product of the processes operating
in the interior of the earth. Exogenic as well as
endogenic processes are constantly shaping
the landscape. A proper understanding of the
physiographic character of a region remains
incomplete if the effects of endogenic processes
are ignored. Human life is largely influenced
by the physiography of the region. Therefore,
it is necessary that one gets acquainted with
the forces that influence landscape
development. To understand why the earth
shakes or how a tsunami wave is generated, it
is necessary that we know certain details of the
interior of the earth. In the previous chapter,
you have noted that the earth-forming
materials have been distributed in the form of
layers from the crust to the core. It is interesting
to know how scientists have gathered
information about these layers and what are
the characteristics of each of these layers. This
is exactly what this chapter deals with.
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE INTERIOR
The earth’s radius is 6,370 km. No one can
reach the centre of the earth and make
observations or collect samples of the material.
Under such conditions, you may wonder how
scientists tell us about the earth’s interior and
the type of materials that exist at such depths.
Most of our knowledge about the interior of
the earth is largely based on estimates and
inferences. Yet, a part of the information is
obtained through direct observations and
analysis of materials.
Direct Sources
The most easily available solid earth material
is surface rock or the rocks we get from mining
areas. Gold mines in South Africa are as deep
as 3 - 4 km. Going beyond this depth is not
possible as it is very hot at this depth. Besides
mining, scientists have taken up a number of
projects to penetrate deeper depths to explore
the conditions in the crustal portions. Scientists
world over are working on two major projects
such as “Deep Ocean Drilling Project” and
“Integrated Ocean Drilling Project”. The
deepest drill at Kola, in Arctic Ocean, has so
far reached a depth of 12 km. This and many
deep drilling projects have provided large
volume of information through the analysis of
materials collected at different depths.
Volcanic eruption forms another source of
obtaining direct information. As and when the
molten material (magma) is thrown onto the
surface of the earth, during volcanic eruption
it becomes available for laboratory analysis.
However, it is difficult to ascertain the depth of
the source of such magma.
CHAPTER
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 22
Indirect Sources
Analysis of properties of matter indirectly
provides information about the interior. We
know through the mining activity that
temperature and pressure increase with the
increasing distance from the surface towards
the interior in deeper depths. Moreover, it is
also known that the density of the material also
increases with depth. It is possible to find the
rate of change of these characteristics. Knowing
the total thickness of the earth, scientists have
estimated the values of temperature, pressure
and the density of materials at different depths.
The details of these characteristics with
reference to each layer of the interior are
discussed later in this chapter.
Another source of information are the
meteors that at times reach the earth. However,
it may be noted that the material that becomes
available for analysis from meteors, is not from
the interior of the earth. The material and the
structure observed in the meteors are similar
to that of the earth. They are solid bodies
developed out of materials same as, or similar
to, our planet. Hence, this becomes yet another
source of information about the interior of the
earth.
The other indirect sources include
gravitation, magnetic field, and seismic activity.
The gravitation force (g) is not the same at
different latitudes on the surface. It is greater
near the poles and less at the equator. This is
because of the distance from the centre at the
equator being greater than that at the poles.
The gravity values also differ according to the
mass of material. The uneven distribution of
mass of material within the earth influences
this value. The reading of the gravity at different
places is influenced by many other factors.
These readings differ from the expected values.
Such a difference is called gravity anomaly.
Gravity anomalies give us information about
the distribution of mass of the material in the
crust of the earth. Magnetic surveys also
provide information about the distribution of
magnetic materials in the crustal portion, and
thus, provide information about the
distribution of materials in this part. Seismic
activity is one of the most important sources of
information about the interior of the earth.
Hence, we shall discuss it in some detail.
Earthquake
The study of seismic waves provides a complete
picture of the layered interior. An earthquake
in simple words is shaking of the earth. It is a
natural event. It is caused due to release of
energy, which generates waves that travel in
all directions.
Why does the earth shake?
The release of energy occurs along a fault. A
fault is a sharp break in the crustal rocks.
Rocks along a fault tend to move in opposite
directions. As the overlying rock strata press
them, the friction locks them together. However,
their tendency to move apart at some point of
time overcomes the friction. As a result, the
blocks get deformed and eventually, they slide
past one another abruptly. This causes a
release of energy, and the energy waves travel
in all directions. The point where the energy is
released is called the focus of an earthquake,
alternatively, it is called the hypocentre. The
energy waves travelling in different directions
reach the surface. The point on the surface,
nearest to the focus, is called epicentre. It is
the first one to experience the waves. It is a point
directly above the focus.
Earthquake Waves
All natural earthquakes take place in the
lithosphere. You will learn about different
layers of the earth later in this chapter. It is
sufficient to note here that the lithosphere refers
to the portion of depth up to 200 km from the
surface of the earth. An instrument called
‘seismograph’ records the waves reaching the
surface. A curve of earthquake waves recorded
on the seismograph is given in Figure 3.1. Note
that the curve shows three distinct sections
each representing different types of wave
patterns. Earthquake waves are basically of two
types — body waves and surface waves. Body
waves are generated due to the release of energy
at the focus and move in all directions travelling
through the body of the earth. Hence, the name
Page 3


W
hat do you imagine about the nature
of the earth? Do you imagine it to be
a solid ball like cricket ball or a
hollow ball with a thick cover of rocks i.e.
lithosphere? Have you ever seen photographs
or images of a volcanic eruption on the
television screen? Can you recollect the
emergence of hot molten lava, dust, smoke, fire
and magma flowing out of the volcanic crater?
The interior  of the earth can be understood only
by indirect evidences as neither any one has nor
any one can reach the interior of the earth.
The configuration of the surface of the earth
is largely a product of the processes operating
in the interior of the earth. Exogenic as well as
endogenic processes are constantly shaping
the landscape. A proper understanding of the
physiographic character of a region remains
incomplete if the effects of endogenic processes
are ignored. Human life is largely influenced
by the physiography of the region. Therefore,
it is necessary that one gets acquainted with
the forces that influence landscape
development. To understand why the earth
shakes or how a tsunami wave is generated, it
is necessary that we know certain details of the
interior of the earth. In the previous chapter,
you have noted that the earth-forming
materials have been distributed in the form of
layers from the crust to the core. It is interesting
to know how scientists have gathered
information about these layers and what are
the characteristics of each of these layers. This
is exactly what this chapter deals with.
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE INTERIOR
The earth’s radius is 6,370 km. No one can
reach the centre of the earth and make
observations or collect samples of the material.
Under such conditions, you may wonder how
scientists tell us about the earth’s interior and
the type of materials that exist at such depths.
Most of our knowledge about the interior of
the earth is largely based on estimates and
inferences. Yet, a part of the information is
obtained through direct observations and
analysis of materials.
Direct Sources
The most easily available solid earth material
is surface rock or the rocks we get from mining
areas. Gold mines in South Africa are as deep
as 3 - 4 km. Going beyond this depth is not
possible as it is very hot at this depth. Besides
mining, scientists have taken up a number of
projects to penetrate deeper depths to explore
the conditions in the crustal portions. Scientists
world over are working on two major projects
such as “Deep Ocean Drilling Project” and
“Integrated Ocean Drilling Project”. The
deepest drill at Kola, in Arctic Ocean, has so
far reached a depth of 12 km. This and many
deep drilling projects have provided large
volume of information through the analysis of
materials collected at different depths.
Volcanic eruption forms another source of
obtaining direct information. As and when the
molten material (magma) is thrown onto the
surface of the earth, during volcanic eruption
it becomes available for laboratory analysis.
However, it is difficult to ascertain the depth of
the source of such magma.
CHAPTER
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 22
Indirect Sources
Analysis of properties of matter indirectly
provides information about the interior. We
know through the mining activity that
temperature and pressure increase with the
increasing distance from the surface towards
the interior in deeper depths. Moreover, it is
also known that the density of the material also
increases with depth. It is possible to find the
rate of change of these characteristics. Knowing
the total thickness of the earth, scientists have
estimated the values of temperature, pressure
and the density of materials at different depths.
The details of these characteristics with
reference to each layer of the interior are
discussed later in this chapter.
Another source of information are the
meteors that at times reach the earth. However,
it may be noted that the material that becomes
available for analysis from meteors, is not from
the interior of the earth. The material and the
structure observed in the meteors are similar
to that of the earth. They are solid bodies
developed out of materials same as, or similar
to, our planet. Hence, this becomes yet another
source of information about the interior of the
earth.
The other indirect sources include
gravitation, magnetic field, and seismic activity.
The gravitation force (g) is not the same at
different latitudes on the surface. It is greater
near the poles and less at the equator. This is
because of the distance from the centre at the
equator being greater than that at the poles.
The gravity values also differ according to the
mass of material. The uneven distribution of
mass of material within the earth influences
this value. The reading of the gravity at different
places is influenced by many other factors.
These readings differ from the expected values.
Such a difference is called gravity anomaly.
Gravity anomalies give us information about
the distribution of mass of the material in the
crust of the earth. Magnetic surveys also
provide information about the distribution of
magnetic materials in the crustal portion, and
thus, provide information about the
distribution of materials in this part. Seismic
activity is one of the most important sources of
information about the interior of the earth.
Hence, we shall discuss it in some detail.
Earthquake
The study of seismic waves provides a complete
picture of the layered interior. An earthquake
in simple words is shaking of the earth. It is a
natural event. It is caused due to release of
energy, which generates waves that travel in
all directions.
Why does the earth shake?
The release of energy occurs along a fault. A
fault is a sharp break in the crustal rocks.
Rocks along a fault tend to move in opposite
directions. As the overlying rock strata press
them, the friction locks them together. However,
their tendency to move apart at some point of
time overcomes the friction. As a result, the
blocks get deformed and eventually, they slide
past one another abruptly. This causes a
release of energy, and the energy waves travel
in all directions. The point where the energy is
released is called the focus of an earthquake,
alternatively, it is called the hypocentre. The
energy waves travelling in different directions
reach the surface. The point on the surface,
nearest to the focus, is called epicentre. It is
the first one to experience the waves. It is a point
directly above the focus.
Earthquake Waves
All natural earthquakes take place in the
lithosphere. You will learn about different
layers of the earth later in this chapter. It is
sufficient to note here that the lithosphere refers
to the portion of depth up to 200 km from the
surface of the earth. An instrument called
‘seismograph’ records the waves reaching the
surface. A curve of earthquake waves recorded
on the seismograph is given in Figure 3.1. Note
that the curve shows three distinct sections
each representing different types of wave
patterns. Earthquake waves are basically of two
types — body waves and surface waves. Body
waves are generated due to the release of energy
at the focus and move in all directions travelling
through the body of the earth. Hence, the name
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH 23
body waves. The body waves interact with the
surface rocks and generate new set of waves
called surface waves. These waves move along
the surface. The velocity of waves changes as
they travel through materials with different
densities. The denser the material, the higher
is the velocity. Their direction also changes as
they reflect or refract when coming across
materials with different densities.
propagation. As a result, it creates density
differences in the material leading to stretching
and squeezing of the material. Other three
waves vibrate perpendicular to the direction of
propagation. The direction of vibrations of
S-waves is perpendicular to the wave direction
in the vertical plane. Hence, they create troughs
and crests in the material through which they
pass. Surface waves are considered to be the
most damaging waves.
Emergence of Shadow Zone
Earthquake waves get recorded in seismo-
graphs located at far off locations. However,
there exist some specific areas where the waves
are not reported. Such a zone is called the
‘shadow zone’. The study of different events
reveals that for each earthquake, there exists
an altogether different shadow zone. Figure 3.2
(a) and (b) show the shadow zones of P and
S-waves. It was observed that seismographs
located at any distance within 105
°
 from the
epicentre, recorded the arrival of both P and
S-waves.  However, the seismographs located
beyond 145
°
 from epicentre, record the arrival
of P-waves, but not that of S-waves. Thus, a
zone between 105
°
 and 145
°
 from epicentre was
identified as the shadow zone for both the types
of waves. The entire zone beyond 105
°
 does not
receive S-waves. The shadow zone of S-wave is
much larger than that of the P-waves. The
shadow zone of P-waves appears as a band
around the earth between 105
°
 and 145
°
 away
from the epicentre. The shadow zone of S-waves
is not only larger in extent but it is also a little
over 40 per cent of the earth surface. You can
draw the shadow zone for any earthquake
provided you know the location of the epicentre.
(See the activity box on page 28 to know how to
locate the epicentre of a quake event).
Types of Earthquakes
(i) The most common ones are the tectonic
earthquakes. These are generated due to
sliding of rocks along a fault plane.
(ii) A special class of tectonic earthquake is
sometimes recognised as volcanic
earthquake. However, these are confined
to areas of active volcanoes.
Figure 3.1 : Earthquake Waves
There are two types of body waves. They
are called P and S-waves. P-waves move faster
and are the first to arrive at the surface. These
are also called ‘primary waves’. The P-waves
are similar to sound waves. They travel
through gaseous, liquid and solid materials.
S-waves arrive at the surface with some time
lag. These are called secondary waves. An
important fact about S-waves is that they can
travel only through solid materials. This
characteristic of the S-waves is quite
important. It has helped scientists to
understand the structure of the interior of the
earth. Reflection causes waves to rebound
whereas refraction makes waves move in
different directions. The variations in the
direction of waves are inferred with the help of
their record on seismograph. The surface
waves are the last to report on seismograph.
These waves are more destructive. They cause
displacement of rocks, and hence, the collapse
of structures occurs.
Propagation of Earthquake Waves
Different types of earthquake waves travel in
different manners. As they move or propagate,
they cause vibration in the body of the rocks
through which they pass. P-waves vibrate
parallel to the direction of the wave. This exerts
pressure on the material in the direction of the
Page 4


W
hat do you imagine about the nature
of the earth? Do you imagine it to be
a solid ball like cricket ball or a
hollow ball with a thick cover of rocks i.e.
lithosphere? Have you ever seen photographs
or images of a volcanic eruption on the
television screen? Can you recollect the
emergence of hot molten lava, dust, smoke, fire
and magma flowing out of the volcanic crater?
The interior  of the earth can be understood only
by indirect evidences as neither any one has nor
any one can reach the interior of the earth.
The configuration of the surface of the earth
is largely a product of the processes operating
in the interior of the earth. Exogenic as well as
endogenic processes are constantly shaping
the landscape. A proper understanding of the
physiographic character of a region remains
incomplete if the effects of endogenic processes
are ignored. Human life is largely influenced
by the physiography of the region. Therefore,
it is necessary that one gets acquainted with
the forces that influence landscape
development. To understand why the earth
shakes or how a tsunami wave is generated, it
is necessary that we know certain details of the
interior of the earth. In the previous chapter,
you have noted that the earth-forming
materials have been distributed in the form of
layers from the crust to the core. It is interesting
to know how scientists have gathered
information about these layers and what are
the characteristics of each of these layers. This
is exactly what this chapter deals with.
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE INTERIOR
The earth’s radius is 6,370 km. No one can
reach the centre of the earth and make
observations or collect samples of the material.
Under such conditions, you may wonder how
scientists tell us about the earth’s interior and
the type of materials that exist at such depths.
Most of our knowledge about the interior of
the earth is largely based on estimates and
inferences. Yet, a part of the information is
obtained through direct observations and
analysis of materials.
Direct Sources
The most easily available solid earth material
is surface rock or the rocks we get from mining
areas. Gold mines in South Africa are as deep
as 3 - 4 km. Going beyond this depth is not
possible as it is very hot at this depth. Besides
mining, scientists have taken up a number of
projects to penetrate deeper depths to explore
the conditions in the crustal portions. Scientists
world over are working on two major projects
such as “Deep Ocean Drilling Project” and
“Integrated Ocean Drilling Project”. The
deepest drill at Kola, in Arctic Ocean, has so
far reached a depth of 12 km. This and many
deep drilling projects have provided large
volume of information through the analysis of
materials collected at different depths.
Volcanic eruption forms another source of
obtaining direct information. As and when the
molten material (magma) is thrown onto the
surface of the earth, during volcanic eruption
it becomes available for laboratory analysis.
However, it is difficult to ascertain the depth of
the source of such magma.
CHAPTER
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 22
Indirect Sources
Analysis of properties of matter indirectly
provides information about the interior. We
know through the mining activity that
temperature and pressure increase with the
increasing distance from the surface towards
the interior in deeper depths. Moreover, it is
also known that the density of the material also
increases with depth. It is possible to find the
rate of change of these characteristics. Knowing
the total thickness of the earth, scientists have
estimated the values of temperature, pressure
and the density of materials at different depths.
The details of these characteristics with
reference to each layer of the interior are
discussed later in this chapter.
Another source of information are the
meteors that at times reach the earth. However,
it may be noted that the material that becomes
available for analysis from meteors, is not from
the interior of the earth. The material and the
structure observed in the meteors are similar
to that of the earth. They are solid bodies
developed out of materials same as, or similar
to, our planet. Hence, this becomes yet another
source of information about the interior of the
earth.
The other indirect sources include
gravitation, magnetic field, and seismic activity.
The gravitation force (g) is not the same at
different latitudes on the surface. It is greater
near the poles and less at the equator. This is
because of the distance from the centre at the
equator being greater than that at the poles.
The gravity values also differ according to the
mass of material. The uneven distribution of
mass of material within the earth influences
this value. The reading of the gravity at different
places is influenced by many other factors.
These readings differ from the expected values.
Such a difference is called gravity anomaly.
Gravity anomalies give us information about
the distribution of mass of the material in the
crust of the earth. Magnetic surveys also
provide information about the distribution of
magnetic materials in the crustal portion, and
thus, provide information about the
distribution of materials in this part. Seismic
activity is one of the most important sources of
information about the interior of the earth.
Hence, we shall discuss it in some detail.
Earthquake
The study of seismic waves provides a complete
picture of the layered interior. An earthquake
in simple words is shaking of the earth. It is a
natural event. It is caused due to release of
energy, which generates waves that travel in
all directions.
Why does the earth shake?
The release of energy occurs along a fault. A
fault is a sharp break in the crustal rocks.
Rocks along a fault tend to move in opposite
directions. As the overlying rock strata press
them, the friction locks them together. However,
their tendency to move apart at some point of
time overcomes the friction. As a result, the
blocks get deformed and eventually, they slide
past one another abruptly. This causes a
release of energy, and the energy waves travel
in all directions. The point where the energy is
released is called the focus of an earthquake,
alternatively, it is called the hypocentre. The
energy waves travelling in different directions
reach the surface. The point on the surface,
nearest to the focus, is called epicentre. It is
the first one to experience the waves. It is a point
directly above the focus.
Earthquake Waves
All natural earthquakes take place in the
lithosphere. You will learn about different
layers of the earth later in this chapter. It is
sufficient to note here that the lithosphere refers
to the portion of depth up to 200 km from the
surface of the earth. An instrument called
‘seismograph’ records the waves reaching the
surface. A curve of earthquake waves recorded
on the seismograph is given in Figure 3.1. Note
that the curve shows three distinct sections
each representing different types of wave
patterns. Earthquake waves are basically of two
types — body waves and surface waves. Body
waves are generated due to the release of energy
at the focus and move in all directions travelling
through the body of the earth. Hence, the name
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH 23
body waves. The body waves interact with the
surface rocks and generate new set of waves
called surface waves. These waves move along
the surface. The velocity of waves changes as
they travel through materials with different
densities. The denser the material, the higher
is the velocity. Their direction also changes as
they reflect or refract when coming across
materials with different densities.
propagation. As a result, it creates density
differences in the material leading to stretching
and squeezing of the material. Other three
waves vibrate perpendicular to the direction of
propagation. The direction of vibrations of
S-waves is perpendicular to the wave direction
in the vertical plane. Hence, they create troughs
and crests in the material through which they
pass. Surface waves are considered to be the
most damaging waves.
Emergence of Shadow Zone
Earthquake waves get recorded in seismo-
graphs located at far off locations. However,
there exist some specific areas where the waves
are not reported. Such a zone is called the
‘shadow zone’. The study of different events
reveals that for each earthquake, there exists
an altogether different shadow zone. Figure 3.2
(a) and (b) show the shadow zones of P and
S-waves. It was observed that seismographs
located at any distance within 105
°
 from the
epicentre, recorded the arrival of both P and
S-waves.  However, the seismographs located
beyond 145
°
 from epicentre, record the arrival
of P-waves, but not that of S-waves. Thus, a
zone between 105
°
 and 145
°
 from epicentre was
identified as the shadow zone for both the types
of waves. The entire zone beyond 105
°
 does not
receive S-waves. The shadow zone of S-wave is
much larger than that of the P-waves. The
shadow zone of P-waves appears as a band
around the earth between 105
°
 and 145
°
 away
from the epicentre. The shadow zone of S-waves
is not only larger in extent but it is also a little
over 40 per cent of the earth surface. You can
draw the shadow zone for any earthquake
provided you know the location of the epicentre.
(See the activity box on page 28 to know how to
locate the epicentre of a quake event).
Types of Earthquakes
(i) The most common ones are the tectonic
earthquakes. These are generated due to
sliding of rocks along a fault plane.
(ii) A special class of tectonic earthquake is
sometimes recognised as volcanic
earthquake. However, these are confined
to areas of active volcanoes.
Figure 3.1 : Earthquake Waves
There are two types of body waves. They
are called P and S-waves. P-waves move faster
and are the first to arrive at the surface. These
are also called ‘primary waves’. The P-waves
are similar to sound waves. They travel
through gaseous, liquid and solid materials.
S-waves arrive at the surface with some time
lag. These are called secondary waves. An
important fact about S-waves is that they can
travel only through solid materials. This
characteristic of the S-waves is quite
important. It has helped scientists to
understand the structure of the interior of the
earth. Reflection causes waves to rebound
whereas refraction makes waves move in
different directions. The variations in the
direction of waves are inferred with the help of
their record on seismograph. The surface
waves are the last to report on seismograph.
These waves are more destructive. They cause
displacement of rocks, and hence, the collapse
of structures occurs.
Propagation of Earthquake Waves
Different types of earthquake waves travel in
different manners. As they move or propagate,
they cause vibration in the body of the rocks
through which they pass. P-waves vibrate
parallel to the direction of the wave. This exerts
pressure on the material in the direction of the
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 24
(v) The earthquakes that occur in the areas
of large reservoirs are referred to as
reservoir induced earthquakes.
Measuring Earthquakes
The earthquake events are scaled either
according to the magnitude or intensity of the
shock. The magnitude scale is known as the
Richter scale. The magnitude relates to the
energy released during the quake. The
magnitude is expressed in absolute numbers,
0-10. The intensity scale is named after
Mercalli, an Italian seismologist. The intensity
scale takes into account the visible damage
caused by the event. The range of intensity scale
is from 1-12.
EFFECTS OF EARTHQUAKE
Earthquake is a natural hazard. The following
are the immediate hazardous effects of
earthquake:
(i) Ground Shaking
(ii) Differential ground settlement
(iii) Land and mud slides
(iv) Soil liquefaction
(v) Ground lurching
(vi) Avalanches
(vii) Ground displacement
(viii) Floods from dam and levee failures
(ix) Fires
(x) Structural collapse
(xi) Falling objects
(xii) Tsunami
The first six listed above have some bearings
upon landforms, while others may be
considered the effects causing immediate
concern to the life and properties of people in
the region. The effect of tsunami would occur
only if the epicentre of the tremor is below
oceanic waters and the magnitude is
sufficiently high. Tsunamis are waves
generated by the tremors and not an
earthquake in itself. Though the actual quake
activity lasts for a few seconds, its effects are
devastating provided the magnitude of the
quake is more than 5 on the Richter scale.
Figure 3.2 (a) and (b) : Earthquake Shadow Zones
(iii) In the areas of intense mining activity,
sometimes the roofs of underground
mines collapse causing minor tremors.
These are called collapse earthquakes.
(iv) Ground shaking may also occur due to
the explosion of chemical or nuclear
devices. Such tremors are called explosion
earthquakes.
105
105 105
145 145
105
105
Page 5


W
hat do you imagine about the nature
of the earth? Do you imagine it to be
a solid ball like cricket ball or a
hollow ball with a thick cover of rocks i.e.
lithosphere? Have you ever seen photographs
or images of a volcanic eruption on the
television screen? Can you recollect the
emergence of hot molten lava, dust, smoke, fire
and magma flowing out of the volcanic crater?
The interior  of the earth can be understood only
by indirect evidences as neither any one has nor
any one can reach the interior of the earth.
The configuration of the surface of the earth
is largely a product of the processes operating
in the interior of the earth. Exogenic as well as
endogenic processes are constantly shaping
the landscape. A proper understanding of the
physiographic character of a region remains
incomplete if the effects of endogenic processes
are ignored. Human life is largely influenced
by the physiography of the region. Therefore,
it is necessary that one gets acquainted with
the forces that influence landscape
development. To understand why the earth
shakes or how a tsunami wave is generated, it
is necessary that we know certain details of the
interior of the earth. In the previous chapter,
you have noted that the earth-forming
materials have been distributed in the form of
layers from the crust to the core. It is interesting
to know how scientists have gathered
information about these layers and what are
the characteristics of each of these layers. This
is exactly what this chapter deals with.
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE INTERIOR
The earth’s radius is 6,370 km. No one can
reach the centre of the earth and make
observations or collect samples of the material.
Under such conditions, you may wonder how
scientists tell us about the earth’s interior and
the type of materials that exist at such depths.
Most of our knowledge about the interior of
the earth is largely based on estimates and
inferences. Yet, a part of the information is
obtained through direct observations and
analysis of materials.
Direct Sources
The most easily available solid earth material
is surface rock or the rocks we get from mining
areas. Gold mines in South Africa are as deep
as 3 - 4 km. Going beyond this depth is not
possible as it is very hot at this depth. Besides
mining, scientists have taken up a number of
projects to penetrate deeper depths to explore
the conditions in the crustal portions. Scientists
world over are working on two major projects
such as “Deep Ocean Drilling Project” and
“Integrated Ocean Drilling Project”. The
deepest drill at Kola, in Arctic Ocean, has so
far reached a depth of 12 km. This and many
deep drilling projects have provided large
volume of information through the analysis of
materials collected at different depths.
Volcanic eruption forms another source of
obtaining direct information. As and when the
molten material (magma) is thrown onto the
surface of the earth, during volcanic eruption
it becomes available for laboratory analysis.
However, it is difficult to ascertain the depth of
the source of such magma.
CHAPTER
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 22
Indirect Sources
Analysis of properties of matter indirectly
provides information about the interior. We
know through the mining activity that
temperature and pressure increase with the
increasing distance from the surface towards
the interior in deeper depths. Moreover, it is
also known that the density of the material also
increases with depth. It is possible to find the
rate of change of these characteristics. Knowing
the total thickness of the earth, scientists have
estimated the values of temperature, pressure
and the density of materials at different depths.
The details of these characteristics with
reference to each layer of the interior are
discussed later in this chapter.
Another source of information are the
meteors that at times reach the earth. However,
it may be noted that the material that becomes
available for analysis from meteors, is not from
the interior of the earth. The material and the
structure observed in the meteors are similar
to that of the earth. They are solid bodies
developed out of materials same as, or similar
to, our planet. Hence, this becomes yet another
source of information about the interior of the
earth.
The other indirect sources include
gravitation, magnetic field, and seismic activity.
The gravitation force (g) is not the same at
different latitudes on the surface. It is greater
near the poles and less at the equator. This is
because of the distance from the centre at the
equator being greater than that at the poles.
The gravity values also differ according to the
mass of material. The uneven distribution of
mass of material within the earth influences
this value. The reading of the gravity at different
places is influenced by many other factors.
These readings differ from the expected values.
Such a difference is called gravity anomaly.
Gravity anomalies give us information about
the distribution of mass of the material in the
crust of the earth. Magnetic surveys also
provide information about the distribution of
magnetic materials in the crustal portion, and
thus, provide information about the
distribution of materials in this part. Seismic
activity is one of the most important sources of
information about the interior of the earth.
Hence, we shall discuss it in some detail.
Earthquake
The study of seismic waves provides a complete
picture of the layered interior. An earthquake
in simple words is shaking of the earth. It is a
natural event. It is caused due to release of
energy, which generates waves that travel in
all directions.
Why does the earth shake?
The release of energy occurs along a fault. A
fault is a sharp break in the crustal rocks.
Rocks along a fault tend to move in opposite
directions. As the overlying rock strata press
them, the friction locks them together. However,
their tendency to move apart at some point of
time overcomes the friction. As a result, the
blocks get deformed and eventually, they slide
past one another abruptly. This causes a
release of energy, and the energy waves travel
in all directions. The point where the energy is
released is called the focus of an earthquake,
alternatively, it is called the hypocentre. The
energy waves travelling in different directions
reach the surface. The point on the surface,
nearest to the focus, is called epicentre. It is
the first one to experience the waves. It is a point
directly above the focus.
Earthquake Waves
All natural earthquakes take place in the
lithosphere. You will learn about different
layers of the earth later in this chapter. It is
sufficient to note here that the lithosphere refers
to the portion of depth up to 200 km from the
surface of the earth. An instrument called
‘seismograph’ records the waves reaching the
surface. A curve of earthquake waves recorded
on the seismograph is given in Figure 3.1. Note
that the curve shows three distinct sections
each representing different types of wave
patterns. Earthquake waves are basically of two
types — body waves and surface waves. Body
waves are generated due to the release of energy
at the focus and move in all directions travelling
through the body of the earth. Hence, the name
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH 23
body waves. The body waves interact with the
surface rocks and generate new set of waves
called surface waves. These waves move along
the surface. The velocity of waves changes as
they travel through materials with different
densities. The denser the material, the higher
is the velocity. Their direction also changes as
they reflect or refract when coming across
materials with different densities.
propagation. As a result, it creates density
differences in the material leading to stretching
and squeezing of the material. Other three
waves vibrate perpendicular to the direction of
propagation. The direction of vibrations of
S-waves is perpendicular to the wave direction
in the vertical plane. Hence, they create troughs
and crests in the material through which they
pass. Surface waves are considered to be the
most damaging waves.
Emergence of Shadow Zone
Earthquake waves get recorded in seismo-
graphs located at far off locations. However,
there exist some specific areas where the waves
are not reported. Such a zone is called the
‘shadow zone’. The study of different events
reveals that for each earthquake, there exists
an altogether different shadow zone. Figure 3.2
(a) and (b) show the shadow zones of P and
S-waves. It was observed that seismographs
located at any distance within 105
°
 from the
epicentre, recorded the arrival of both P and
S-waves.  However, the seismographs located
beyond 145
°
 from epicentre, record the arrival
of P-waves, but not that of S-waves. Thus, a
zone between 105
°
 and 145
°
 from epicentre was
identified as the shadow zone for both the types
of waves. The entire zone beyond 105
°
 does not
receive S-waves. The shadow zone of S-wave is
much larger than that of the P-waves. The
shadow zone of P-waves appears as a band
around the earth between 105
°
 and 145
°
 away
from the epicentre. The shadow zone of S-waves
is not only larger in extent but it is also a little
over 40 per cent of the earth surface. You can
draw the shadow zone for any earthquake
provided you know the location of the epicentre.
(See the activity box on page 28 to know how to
locate the epicentre of a quake event).
Types of Earthquakes
(i) The most common ones are the tectonic
earthquakes. These are generated due to
sliding of rocks along a fault plane.
(ii) A special class of tectonic earthquake is
sometimes recognised as volcanic
earthquake. However, these are confined
to areas of active volcanoes.
Figure 3.1 : Earthquake Waves
There are two types of body waves. They
are called P and S-waves. P-waves move faster
and are the first to arrive at the surface. These
are also called ‘primary waves’. The P-waves
are similar to sound waves. They travel
through gaseous, liquid and solid materials.
S-waves arrive at the surface with some time
lag. These are called secondary waves. An
important fact about S-waves is that they can
travel only through solid materials. This
characteristic of the S-waves is quite
important. It has helped scientists to
understand the structure of the interior of the
earth. Reflection causes waves to rebound
whereas refraction makes waves move in
different directions. The variations in the
direction of waves are inferred with the help of
their record on seismograph. The surface
waves are the last to report on seismograph.
These waves are more destructive. They cause
displacement of rocks, and hence, the collapse
of structures occurs.
Propagation of Earthquake Waves
Different types of earthquake waves travel in
different manners. As they move or propagate,
they cause vibration in the body of the rocks
through which they pass. P-waves vibrate
parallel to the direction of the wave. This exerts
pressure on the material in the direction of the
FUNDAMENTALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY 24
(v) The earthquakes that occur in the areas
of large reservoirs are referred to as
reservoir induced earthquakes.
Measuring Earthquakes
The earthquake events are scaled either
according to the magnitude or intensity of the
shock. The magnitude scale is known as the
Richter scale. The magnitude relates to the
energy released during the quake. The
magnitude is expressed in absolute numbers,
0-10. The intensity scale is named after
Mercalli, an Italian seismologist. The intensity
scale takes into account the visible damage
caused by the event. The range of intensity scale
is from 1-12.
EFFECTS OF EARTHQUAKE
Earthquake is a natural hazard. The following
are the immediate hazardous effects of
earthquake:
(i) Ground Shaking
(ii) Differential ground settlement
(iii) Land and mud slides
(iv) Soil liquefaction
(v) Ground lurching
(vi) Avalanches
(vii) Ground displacement
(viii) Floods from dam and levee failures
(ix) Fires
(x) Structural collapse
(xi) Falling objects
(xii) Tsunami
The first six listed above have some bearings
upon landforms, while others may be
considered the effects causing immediate
concern to the life and properties of people in
the region. The effect of tsunami would occur
only if the epicentre of the tremor is below
oceanic waters and the magnitude is
sufficiently high. Tsunamis are waves
generated by the tremors and not an
earthquake in itself. Though the actual quake
activity lasts for a few seconds, its effects are
devastating provided the magnitude of the
quake is more than 5 on the Richter scale.
Figure 3.2 (a) and (b) : Earthquake Shadow Zones
(iii) In the areas of intense mining activity,
sometimes the roofs of underground
mines collapse causing minor tremors.
These are called collapse earthquakes.
(iv) Ground shaking may also occur due to
the explosion of chemical or nuclear
devices. Such tremors are called explosion
earthquakes.
105
105 105
145 145
105
105
INTERIOR OF THE EARTH 25
Frequency of Earthquake Occurrences
The earthquake is a natural hazard. If a tremor
of high magnitude takes place, it can cause
heavy damage to the life and property of
people. However, not all the parts of the globe
necessarily experience major shocks. We shall
be discussing the distribution of earthquakes
and volcanoes with some details in the next
STRUCTURE OF THE EARTH
The Crust
It is the outermost solid part of the earth. It is
brittle in nature. The thickness of the crust
varies under the oceanic and continental areas.
Oceanic crust is thinner as compared to the
continental crust. The mean thickness of
oceanic crust is 5 km whereas that of the
continental is around 30 km. The continental
crust is thicker in the areas of major mountain
systems. It is as much as 70 km thick in the
Himalayan region.
It is made up of heavier rocks having
density of 3 g/cm
3
. This type of rock found in
the oceanic crust is basalt. The mean density
of material in oceanic crust is 2.7 g/cm
3
.
The Mantle
The portion of the interior beyond the crust is
called the mantle. The mantle extends from
Moho’s discontinuity to a depth of 2,900 km.
The upper portion of the mantle is called
asthenosphere. The word astheno means
weak. It is considered to be extending upto 400
km. It is the main source of magma that finds
chapter. Note that the quakes of high
magnitude, i.e. 8+ are quite rare; they occur
once in 1-2 years whereas those of ‘tiny’ types
occur almost every minute.
A view of the damaged Aman Setu at the LOC
in Uri, due to an earthquake
Read More
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