Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2015 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, Daniele L. Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Daniel Rouan, Tilman Spohn, Stéphane Tirard, Michel Viso

Geological Data

  • Hervé Martin
  • Daniele L. Pinti
  • Muriel Gargaud
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_5070

General Information

Whole Earth

Age of the Earth

4.550 Ga

Age of the oldest known terrestrial material (zircon from Jack Hills, Australia)

4.404 Ga

Age of the oldest known terrestrial rock (Acasta Gneiss, Canada)

4.030 Ga

Equatorial radius

6,378.136 km

Polar radius

6,356.753 km



Total surface area

510 × 106 km2

Ocean surface area

357 × 106 km2

Continental surface area

153 × 106 km2


5.974 2 × 1024 kg

Mean density

5.515 g cm−3

Deepest oceanic trench (Marianas)

10,911 m

Highest mountain (Everest)

8,863 m

Present-day oceanic ridge length

∼80,000 km

Solid inner core

Depth from surface

5,155 km


∼1,223 km

Average density

12 g cm−3


8.45 × 1010 km3


1.18 × 1023 kg

Liquid outer core


2,891 km


∼2,264 km

Average density

10 g cm−3


1.65 × 1011 km3


1.65 × 1024 kg

Lower mantle (mesosphere)


660 km


∼2,231 km

Average density

5 g cm−3


5.87 × 1011 km3


2.93 × 1024 kg

Upper mantle


30 km


∼630 km

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References and Further Reading

  1. Anders E, Grevesse N (1989) Abundances of the elements: meteoritic and solar. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 53:197–214CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. McDonough WF (1998) Earth’s core. In: Marshall CP, Fairbridge RW (eds) Encyclopedia of geochemistry. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, pp 151–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. McDonough WF, Sun S-S (1995) Composition of the earth. Chem Geol 120:223–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. McDonough WF, Sun S-S, Ringwood AE, Jagoutz E, Hofmann AW (1992) Potassium, rubidium, and cesium in the earth and moon and the evolution of the mantle of the earth. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 56(3):1001–1012CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  5. Rudnick RL, Fountain DM (1995) Nature and composition of the continental crust: a lower crustal perspective. Rev Geophys 33:267–309CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  6. Rudnick RL, Gao S (2003) The composition of the continental crust. In: Rudnick RL (ed) The crust. Treatise on geochemistry. Elsevier-Pergamon, Oxford, pp 1–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Taylor SR, McLennan SM (1985) The continental crust: its composition and evolution. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, 312 ppGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hervé Martin
    • 1
  • Daniele L. Pinti
    • 2
  • Muriel Gargaud
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire Magmas et VolcansUniversité Blaise Pascal, OPGC, CNRS, IRDClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.GEOTOP Research Center for Geochemistry and GeodynamicsUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.CNRS-Universite de Bordeaux, Laboratoire d‘Astrophysique de BordeauxFloiracFrance