Spheres of Earth

We all have probably read of Biosphere, Hydrosphere, Lithosphere and Atmosphere (and its sub-layers) in school. But how many total layers are there of Earth?. In this module, we will discuss about 12 different spheres of Earth. These sphere are interdependent and interrelated to each other. None of them can exist without at least being dependent on one.

Biosphere / Ecosphere / Lifesphere

Biosphere is the sphere or realm of life on planet Earth. It is the sum total of all the living organisms (animals, humans, insects, flora and fauna etc) and their ecosystem they live in. Biosphere study, Ecology, also includes the study of abiotic things from which living organism derive their food, energy, nutrients.


Hydrosphere realm which include all the water present on the planet Earth. Hydrosphere includes all the water bodies- ponds, seas, lakes, estuaries, rivers, streams, oceans etc. It also includes the water present beneath the Earth surface and in the atmosphere.


A sub-sphere of the Hydrosphere. It is the frozen water part of the Earth system. It includes glaciers, ice sheets, ice caps, frozen lakes and rivers and the all the other locations where water is in solid form.


It is a realm that envelope all the gases and air that surround the planet Earth. Atmosphere is further divided into sub layers based on their characteristics.


A universally-accepted definition of Geosphere is still matter of debate. But most of the geologists and geographers agree upon this one definition - "A part of Earth system that includes the Earth's interior - Crust, Mantle, Core, rocks, land, minerals, underneath Earth processes".

The study of Geosphere is Geology. The study of Earth's shape and Earth's orientation in space is Geodesy.


Lithosphere is the rigid, hard, outer-shell of the planet Earth composed of rocks, soil and ground surface of the Earth (or any terrestrial planet for that matter). Rocks and rock cycle are vital while studying lithosphere.


A sub-sphere of Lithosphere. It is specifically the sphere of soil. The study of soil, or pedosphere in general, is referred as Pedology. Pedalogy studies the soil classification, soil processes, soil morphology.


Asthenosphere is the layer that sits just below the lithosphere of the planet Earth and is part of upper mantle. The material in this layer slippery or plastic-ky (scientifically called highly viscous) in nature. Asthenosphere acts as a lubricant layer for the movement of tectonic plates that sits above it.


A sub-sphere of Biosphere. It is a realm of planet Earth that encompasses the human life throughout the planet. It also includes structures, cultures, technologies created by humans, and other human-associated activities.

The study of humans, human behaviour, human societies, human interactions, human environment, evolution as a species, our distinctiveness as a species, is called Anthropology. The word Anthro means Man or Human.