The Lithosphere and Processes of Sculpturing the Earth’s Surface

The lithosphere is the solid part of the earth which interacts directly with the biosphere, hydrosphere and the atmosphere. The processes that sculpture the earth’s surface are plate movement (which shall be discussed later in this course material), weathering and erosion by wind, glacier or water, and deposition by wind, water and ice.

These processes have the capacity to sculpture the earth’s surface. The processes produce landforms such as valleys, plateaus, mountains, hills, loess or glaciers which are natural features of landscape.

The shape of the earth may undergo slow processes such as drought, weathering and erosion or rapid/violent processes such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquake, tsunamis and flooding. These processes which are exogenous (surface) and endogenous (within rock), respectively, will be discussed in further details later in this course material.

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Sculpturing takes place with felling of trees and consequent disruption and destruction of the biodiversity. Agricultural activities also contribute to the sculpturing.

For example, the use of chemical fertilizers act to pollute both the hydrosphere and the biosphere. The pollution enhances weathering and erosion and also affects the growth and biodiversity of the area.

The efforts of man to develop and expand settlement patterns have had the hardest effect on the sculpturing of the earth as the home of man.

Urbanization is normally accompanied by felling of trees without commensurate effort attempt to re-plant. This is one of the worst direct effects of sculpturing of the earth’s surface.

The Lithosphere and Processes of Sculpturing the Earth’s Surface

The desire and need for development has led to the excavation of the earth for industrial, metal and non-metal minerals from the surface and beneath the earth.

These have also sculpture the surface of the earth and in many ways led to deforestation, destruction of biodiversity, farmlands and homes.

The economic benefits, however, out way the damages such that environmental reconstruction is made possible during and after the mining activities.

The activities of man mentioned above cause weathering and erosion on the surface of the earth. Weathering is the disintegration of rocks due to the actions of water, wind or man. This weakens or destroys the bond(s) between the elements that make up the mineral in the rock with the consequence that wind or water will cause removal of parts of the rock at intervals.

In summary, the atmosphere is classified into the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere, some of these have sublayers. The hydrosphere is the wet or water saturated portions of the earth.

This is synonymous with the hydrologic cycle which is the continuous circulation of water throughout Earth and between Earth’s systems. Water in the lithosphere and biosphere undergo evaporation and transpiration under the sun to condense as cloud and thereafter precipitate as rainfall. Erosion, weathering, drought, extreme heat, urbanization and absence of planning have contributed to the sculpturing of the earth’s surface.

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The Earth is the third planet and perhaps the only planet with life. It is surrounded by the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. These are interrelated and work symbiotically in many respects.

The surface of the earth has suffered from erosion, weathering, drought, flood, earthquakes, tsunami, agricultural and industrial activities that have individually and collectively worked to re-sculpture the earth.

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Benadine Nonye

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