Q:

What causes convection currents in the Earth's mantle?

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Quick Answer

Convection currents in Earth's mantle are caused by the rise of hot material rising towards the crust, becoming cooler and sinking back down. This process occurs repeatedly, causing the currents to constantly flow. The movement of the currents plays a factor in the movement of the mantle.

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Full Answer

The convection currents also help transfer heat from Earth's core, where magma is created through radioactive decay, to the mantle. This heat transfer continues through the layers of the crust until it reaches the surface. The convection currents, as they carry heat upward with the magma, break apart the plates at areas referred to as divergent plate boundaries.

The plates spread at the breaking point, but this pushes the edges of the ocean plates down into the trenches or subduction zones where it is reclaimed or recycled back into the asthenosphere. This occurs because the crust is broken up into multiple tectonic plates. The plates grow when the convection currents cause the spreads, but the spread forces the edges of the plates down into the subduction zones where it is melted once more and turned back into magma. This process keeps the crust in a constant state of movement, which in turn causes Earth's crust to essentially float on the currents of magma below the surface.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What causes the mantle to flow?

    A:

    The mantle present in the Earth's crust flows due to a process known as mantle convection; convection currents that transport heat to the surface of the Earth are responsible for this activity. These currents permit molecules to travel through liquids or gases, an activity known as convection.

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  • Q:

    How hot is Earth's mantle?

    A:

    Temperatures in the Earth's mantle are as high as 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit at its furthest depth and as low as 1,600 F in its uppermost layer. The Earth's mantle is made up of extremely hot, dense rock that is constantly flowing and stretches 1,800 miles from top to bottom, making it the thickest layer on the planet.

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  • Q:

    What is the Earth's mantle made of?

    A:

    The Earth's mantle is made primarily of solid rock. All of this rock is comprised of a variety of oxides. Their atomic elements include oxygen, silicon and magnesium.

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  • Q:

    How thick is the Earth's mantle?

    A:

    The Earth's mantle is 2,900 kilometers (1,802 miles) thick. The mantle lies between the core and the outer crust layer and consists of four layers: lithosphere, asthenosphere, upper mantle and lower mantle.

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