The lithosphere is the outermost part of the earth. It is subdivided into tectonic plates. The lithosphere of the earth consists mainly of the crust and the upper mantle. There are basically two types of the lithosphere, namely – Oceanic Lithosphere and Continental Lithosphere. The lithosphere also contains the different types of rocks such as the igneous, sedimentary, and the metamorphic rocks.
There are mainly 15 tectonic plates in the lithosphere. They are – the North American, Caribbean, South American, Scotia, Antarctic, Eurasian, Arabian, African, Indian, Philippine, Australian, Pacific, Juan de Fuca, Cocos, and Nazca. The movement of these plates is responsible for the formation of mountains and oceanic trenches, volcanic eruption, and the earthquakes.
The lithosphere includes both the land area and the water bodies. The land area consists of 30% of the total area of the earth. In the continental regions it has a thickness of 35-50 kilometers and under the ocean beds, it gets reduced to 6-12 kilometers. This outer layer of the earth has a depth of more than 100 kilometers.
The lithosphere is very important to us mainly because of the abundance of resources in it. Let us see in detail why the lithosphere is important to us.
- The lithosphere helps to provide all the necessary nutrients required for the growth of plants. It also combines with the hydrosphere and the atmosphere to help in the growth of all the living organisms.
- We need fuels such as coal, petroleum, gas, etc., for the industries, household purposes and also for the automobiles. The lithosphere is rich in all these fuels.
- The alteration of the tectonic plates gives rise to mountains, earthquakes, etc. These will gradually help to form new habitats.
- The different types of metals we use in our daily lives as tools are extracted from the minerals found in the lithosphere. The various minerals present in it are iron, silver, manganese, aluminum, magnesium, calcium, and copper.
- Water bodies are essential for the existence of all the living beings on the earth. The lithosphere contains the water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and oceans.
- The lithosphere provides the space for the shelter of all the animals as well as for the human beings.
In short, the lithosphere contains everything that is essential for the sustenance of life on the earth. Without lithosphere, we cannot imagine the presence of even a single life on the earth. Though the lithosphere has the various benefits, the eruption of volcanoes and the earthquakes are also caused because of the movement of the tectonic plates on the lithosphere. The movement of these plates is caused by the heat energy from the mantle portion.
The lithosphere hence is very important in our life. All our chemical and mechanical activities depend completely on the resources available on the lithosphere. In the absence of lithosphere, we will not have any space to live on the earth. This cool and brittle is, thus, the most important part of the earth by all means.