Did You Know: Earth's Internal Energy

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The deeper you go beneath Earth's surface, the hotter it gets.

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/).

  • Image showing Earth's layers (STScI; Google Earth: SIO, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, IBCAO, Landsat/Copernicus, USGS)
  • Gas plume from Augustine Volcano, Alaska, 2006 (Cyrus Read, USGS, Alaska Volcano Observatory)
  • Written by Margaret Carruthers

Text, Did you know? Earth's internal energy.
The deeper you go beneath Earth's surface, the hotter it gets. A cross section of Earth's layers. S-T-S-c-I, Google Earth, S-I-O, NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO, I-B-C-A-O, Landsat Copernicus, USGS. Earth's temperature increases with depth. Earth's inner core is about the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Inner core roughly 6,000 degrees Centigrade. Greater than 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Much of the energy deep beneath the surface is left over from when Earth formed more than four and a half billion years ago.
Some comes from the decay of radioactive elements inside the planet.
Energy from Earth's interior drives many geologic processes on the surface, including mountain building, earthquakes, tectonic plate motion, and the eruptions of volcanoes and geysers. A steaming volcano. Gas plumes from Augustine Volcano, Alaska, 2006. Cyrus Read, USGS, Alaska Volcano Observatory.