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LITHOSPHERE (Gr. λίθος, a stone, and σφαῖρα, a sphere), the crust of the upper earth surrounding the earth’s nucleus. The superficial soil, a layer of loose earthy material from a few feet to a few hundreds of feet in thickness, lies upon a zone of hard rock many thousands of feet in thickness but varying in character, and composed mainly of sandstones, shales, clays, limestones and metamorphic rocks. These two layers form the lithosphere. All the tectonic movements of the solid nucleus produce changes in the mobile lithosphere. Volcanic and seismic activity is manifested, mountains are folded, levels change, fresh surfaces are exposed to denudation, erosion and deposition. The crust is thus subject to constant change while retaining its more or less permanent character.
Published in 1911
© Encyclopædia Britannica