|Focus||Structure of the Earth|
|Topics||Cambrian Period, Core, Crust, Mantle, Types of Rock|
The Cambrian period is one of the most significant geological time periods. Lasting about 53 million years, it marked a dramatic burst of changes in life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion. It is from this period that the majority of the history of life on Earth, as documented by fossils, is found. Called the fossil record, the layering of these mineralized imprints of organisms preserved in sedementary rock have allowed geologists to build a historical record of plant and animal life on Earth.
The Earth's core is divided into the liquid outer core (1,430 miles or 2,300 km radius) and the solid inner core (745 miles or 1,200 km radius).
The crust is the Earth's outermost layer and is divided into oceanic and continental types. Oceanic crust is 3 miles (5 km) to 6 miles (10 km) thick and is composed primarily of denser rock. Continental crust is 20 to 30 miles (30 to 50 km) thick and composed primarily of less dense rock. The crust makes up approximately one percent of the Earth's total volume.
Mantle makes up 84% of the Earth's volume and has an average thickness of approximately 1,800 miles (2,900 km). It is dense, hot, and primarily solid although in places it behaves more like a viscous fluid as the plates of the upper mantle and crust gradually "float" along its circumference.
The Earth's rocks fall into three categories based on how they're formed. Igneous rock (granite, basalt, obsidian) is formed from the hardening of molten rock (lava), sedimentary rock (shale, sandstone, coal) is formed by the gradual despositing and cementing of rock and other debris, and metamorphic rock (marble, slate, quartzite) which is formed when existing rock is altered though pressure, temperature, or chemical processes.