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Sorting of Earth According to Density. How Do The Densities of Earth\'s Layers Compare?.

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how do the densities of earth s layers compare
How Do The Densities of Earth\'s Layers Compare?
  • Knowing that some things float on water while others sink gives us a good idea about how density relates to things around you. Not only does density determine when something will sink in water, it also is responsible for the different layers on the Earth!
how do the densities of earth s layers compare1
How Do The Densities of Earth\'s Layers Compare?
  • Below you will find photographs to represent the different layers of the Earth. At the right of each photograph you will find the density for that layer.



Density = .0013 g/cm3

Density =

3 g/cm3

Density varies between 13.0 g/cm3 at the core to 4.5 g/cm3 at the mantle.



Density = 1 g/cm3

sorting according to density in nature
Sorting according to density in Nature
  • Can you think of any examples of sorting according to density in nature?
  • Streams
  • Road Cuts
  • Beaches
the beach
Have you ever walked along a beach and wondered why parts of it were sandy and other parts of it were rocky? Why does this happen?

When the waves hit the beach, the sand and rocks carried in the water fall out. The denser rock particles are dropped first along the shore, while the less dense sand particles are carried up further on the beach.

The Beach
a stream or river
Try and think of the rocks you have observed in a river or stream. Where do the big rocks go? Where does the smaller stuff like sand go? A stream or river
sorting in general
Sorting in General
  • Dense objects like large rocks stay at the bottom while lighter objects like silt and dirt can be carried away by the flow.  Density affects the sorting of naturally occurring materials in a mixture.
  • Pat puts items into a jar and shakes it up. Pat lets the jar settle for 5 minutes. What would be the expected order of the items going from the top of the container to the bottom?

a. rock, sand, water, metal

b. metal, rock, sand, water

c. water, sand, rock, metal

d. sand, metal, water, rock

  • Water has a density of 1.0 g/mL. You are given a rock with a density of 2.5 g/mL. Predict what will happen to the rock when put into a container of water.

a. The rock will sink to the bottom of the water.

b. The rock will float on top of the water.

c. The rock will sink half way to the bottom of the water.

d. The rock will float just below the surface of the water.


Why is water located above the crust but below the air?

a. The density of water is higher than air and higher than the crust

b. The density of water is lower than air and higher than the crust.

c. The density of water is higher than air and lower than the crust.

d. The density of water is lower than air and lower than the crust.


Which of the following statements best explains why earth is layered in the following order:

air  water  crust  core?

a. Things in nature like to order themselves by color, red to the bottom and blue to the top.

b. Things in nature like to order themselves by density, most dense to the bottom and least dense to the top.

c. Things in nature like to order themselves by particle size, largest particles to the bottom and smallest particles to the top.

d. Things in nature like to order themselves by temperature, hottest to the bottom and coolest to the top.


A beach is composed of particles of sand of the same size. Why doesn’t the beach have materials of all sizes? The particles have

a. come from the same place.

b. come to the beach at the same time.

c. been found in underwater canyons.

d. been sorted by size and density.


A streambed contains round rocks, all about the same size. Why are there no smaller particles of sand and clay? Sand and clay

a. is denser.

b. have washed away.

c. were never there.

d. are too small to see.


During a flash flood, large boulders can be moved downstream. Why don’t large boulders usually move?

a. They are made from very dense materials.

c. They are attached to the stream bottom.

d. They are weathered and eroded in place.


Where would the smallest particles of rock be found in a streambed?

a. In the strongest current

b. In the weakest current

c. Near the middle

d. At the beginning


In an experiment, students shook jars of water with soil and rock in them. What does the shaking model represent in nature?

a. A lake environment

b. A stream current

c. Living things in an environment

d. A rainstorm


Sand with particles of the same size was gently shaken in a jar to see if layers would form. What variable was being tested?

a. particle size and density

b. particle color

c. particle type


A student shakes a jar with a mixture of sand types. Instead of mixing, the sand grains separate into layers. Why?

a. The grains are different colors.

b. The grains have different shapes.

c. The grains have different densities.

d. The jar has a round shape.

  • Water is added to a jar with soil in it and the jar is shaken. Which drawing shows what will happen after it sits for a few minutes?

In the spring, rivers in Utah are often brown in color. A sample of the water shows it contains very small particles of silt. Why is silt suspended in the water?

a. Silt is in brown in color.

b. The water is moving rapidly.

c. Silt is small with low density.

d. Water has a high density.