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Earth’s Mantle

The mantle is a layer of the Earth that makes up 85% of the entire planet. The mantle is mostly solid rock but some parts are hotter and more fluid. Scientists have divided the mantle into an upper and lower section. An illustration of the Earth's Structure.
 

Where is the Earth’s Mantle?

The mantle is located below the Earth’s crust and above the Earth’s outer core. It starts at the bottom of the crust, between 7 and 35 kilometers below the Earth’s surface. It ends where the Earth’s core begins, about 2,700 km below the Earth’s surface. Sometimes the mantle comes to the surface of the Earth as lava erupting from volcanoes! We refer to the rising magma as a plume.

An image of a volcanic eruption with a lava flow.

Lava erupting from a volcano.

It’s amazing that the lava in volcanos was once deep inside the Earth! Watch out – it’s hot! 
 
You might be wondering if humans have ever been to the mantle. Watch this video to see the answer! 
 

Parts of the Earth’s Mantle

Because the mantle is so big, not all of it is the same. Different parts of it have different temperatures, consistencies, and chemical makeup. Scientists split the upper mantle into two parts: the lithosphere and the asthenosphere. 

An illustration of the layers of the Earth in a stack.

Layers of the earth. Most of it is made up of hot magma.

The mantle splits up into upper and lower segments. Then, the upper part is split into the lithosphere and the asthenosphere. 
 
The lithosphere includes both the Earth’s crust and the top part of the upper mantle. It is the coldest and least dense layer of the Earth because it is the closest to the surface. 
 
The asthenosphere is the lower part of the upper mantle. Because it is so hot, rocks in the asthenosphere partially melt and can move around a little bit. They do so in the form of magma.
 
The lower mantle is much more of mystery to scientists. They don’t all agree on what it looks like. Generally, scientists agree that it is hotter and denser than the upper part. But, some scientists think that it can move while others do not. 

An image of a scientist looking at a rock.

A geologist studying a mineral. If you like rare minerals and gems, you might want to become a geologist.

 
<A geologist studying a mineral. If you like rare minerals and gems, you might want to become a geologist.>
 
Geologists are people who study the Earth. They need to do more research to figure out what the lower mantle is actually like. 
 

Characteristics of the Earth’s Mantle

Temperature: The mantle is super hot! Its temperature ranges from 1,000 degrees Celsius to 3,700 degrees Celsius. It is coldest at the top and hottest at the bottom. 
 
Thickness: The mantle is the thickest layer of the Earth with a thickness of about 2,900 km! 
 
Composition: The mantle is composed of different elements. These include magnesium, silicon, aluminum, and oxygen silicates. 
 
Density: This layer is denser than the Earth’s crust but less dense than the Earth’s core. This is because the pressure on the rocks increases deeper in the Earth. 

Other Great Resources

In-Depth Lesson on the Earth’s Interior by NatGeo: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/mantle/

‘Earth’s Mantle Facts and Definition’: https://study.com/academy/lesson/earths-mantle-definition-facts-quiz.html

Brief Overview of the Subject by Planet Earth: http://gamediv1.weebly.com/mantle.html

Written By: Leah Tolby