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Name:  d c whitbeck
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Date: 1999

How did they discover the Earth's layers?

The Earth's layers were discovered by looking at recordings of seismic waves generated by earthquakes. When an earthquake occurs, seismic waves travel throughout the earth. It is these seismic waves that cause the ground to shake near an earthquake. At great distances these waves can no longer be felt, but sensitive seismic instruments can still record them. Today's instruments are so sensitive that even moderate size earthquakes (magnitude 5) can be recorded on the other side of the world.

By looking at the recordings made by seismic instruments, scientists can deduce what the interior of the Earth looks like. This is much the same method as a CAT-scan used by doctors to image the brain.

The layers of the Earth were discovered during the first half of this century after modern seismographs were invented. Scientists are still studying the details of the constitution of the Earth in this way.


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