Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Harsh K. Gupta

Lithosphere, Mechanical Properties

  • Evgueni BurovEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-10475-7_147-1



Lithosphere (mechanical). This is the rigid (“litho” = stone) outer layer of the Earth that remains mechanically strong over geological time spans. Mechanical lithosphere includes rigid layers of crust and outermost mantle capable to maintain high differential tectonic stresses, from 10 MPa to 1 GPa. Mechanical lithosphere is 1.5–2 times thinner than “seismic,” “thermal,” or “chemical” lithosphere.

Mechanical properties of the lithosphere. This term refers to the integrated strength of lithospheric plates, their rheological structure and parameters, and mechanical behavior in response to various tectonic loads.


Mechanical properties of the lithosphere are of primary importance for local and global geodynamics. In particular, compared to the convective mantle, high long-term mechanical strength makes the lithosphere a unique stress/strain guiding and accumulating envelope with lasting mechanical memory. High strength prohibits internal heat...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ISTEP – Institute of Earth Sciences of Paris (UMR 7193 UPMC-CNRS)University of Pierre et Marie CurieParisFrance