Shortcut Navigation:
The Differentiated Earth_HERO

The differentiated Earth

The differentiated Earth

  • Exhibition Text

    • The differentiation, or organization, of the Earth into layers is perhaps the most significant event in its history. It led to the formation of a core, a crust, and eventually continents. The light elements were driven from the interior to form an ocean and atmosphere.

      These four blocks are the same size. But they have different densities, and therefore their masses are also different. Lift each one to compare their weights.

      Show more
  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Sciences

      Subtopic: Earth Structure

      Keywords: Continents, Ocean, Atmosphere, Geology, Earth (Planet)--Crust, Earth (Planet)--Core

      Audience: General

In This Section



The first atmosphere probably formed by the continuous release of gases from the Earth’s molten interior soon after it coalesced.

Earth's Layers: Core

Core (Iron)

The Earth’s core, its densest layer, is made up of iron-nickel alloy.


Mantle (Peridotite)

Peridotite, a rock made up primarily of the minerals olivine and pyroxene, is the chief constituent of the Earth’s upper mantle.

Earth's Layers: Crust

Crust (Granite)

Granite, an igneous rock composed mainly of the minerals quartz and feldspar, makes up most of the upper crust.

Earth Layers: Ocean

Oceans (Water)

As the Earth’s surface cooled below 100 degrees Centigrade, water rained out of the atmosphere to form the ocean.

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions

Enlighten Your Inbox

Stay informed about Museum news and research, events, and more!