What is lithosphere?

  • (noun): The solid part of the earth consisting of the crust and outer mantle.
    Synonyms: geosphere


The lithosphere (Ancient Greek: λίθος for "rocky", and σφαῖρα for "sphere") is the rigid outermost shell of a rocky planet. On Earth, it comprises the crust and the portion of the upper mantle that behaves elastically on time scales of thousands of years or greater.

Read more about Lithosphere.

Some articles on lithosphere:

Afar Triple Junction - Rifts
... rift is the result of pulling apart or extension of both the lithosphere and crust (note that the crust is a part of the lithosphere) ... upwelling where hotter asthenosphere rises up into colder lithosphere ... This rise is associated with thinning and stretching of the lithosphere ...
... a flexural bulge in front of a load on the lithosphere ... This load causes the lithosphere to flex by depressing the plate beneath it ... Because of the flexural rigidity of the lithosphere, the area around the load is uplifted by a height that is 4% of that of the depression under the load ...
Delamination (geology)
... to the loss and sinking of the portion of the lowermost lithosphere from the tectonic plate to which it was attached ... This can occur when the lower portion of the lithosphere becomes more dense than the surrounding mantle ... instability of higher density material atop lower density material, the lower lithosphere separates from the tectonic plate and sinks into the mantle ...
Passive Margin - Subsidence Mechanisms
... In the initial stage, the continental crust and lithosphere is stretched and thinned due to plate movement (plate tectonics) and associated igneous activity ... The very thin lithosphere beneath the rift allows the upwelling mantle to melt by decompression ... thinning also allows the asthenosphere to rise closer to the surface, heating the overlying lithosphere by conduction and advection of heat by intrusive dykes ...
Lithosphere - Mantle Xenoliths
... Such studies have confirmed that mantle lithospheres below some cratons have persisted for periods in excess of 3 billion years, despite the mantle flow that accompanies plate tectonics ...