At its most fundamental level the earth system is determined by the lithosphere: 7 major tectonic plates on average 100 kilometers thick. The continuously diverging and converging plates push up mountain ranges and enfold ocean floors down into lava. Over billions of years, as the earth slowly cools, these forces form terrestrial topography and marine bathymetry, which shapes global climate, species distribution and ultimately human culture. Vast fissures in the ocean floor which filter and regurgitate the ocean are a likely source for the origin of life.
The current configuration of continents which we recognize as the outlines of our national and global identities are traceable to 'Pangea', a unified landmass which began separating 175 million years ago. Projecting their current drifts, geophysicists speculate that in 250 million years the earth's tectonics will create a world known as 'Pangea Ultima', one completely unrecognizable to us. In 500 million years the earth's current terrestrial surface will be entirely reabsorbed in to the magma.
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3. Ocean's Lithosphere
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