The four spheres of Earth - Geosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Atmosphere


Staff member
Jun 3, 2020
The planet Earth can be described in multiple spheres based on the crust, water, life, and air. These spheres are interconnected and the natural processes in these spheres depend on each other. Some people count only 4 spheres while others count 5 spheres, 6 spheres, 7 spheres, 12 spheres, and even 17 spheres of Earth.

How many spheres does the Earth have in total?
The basic spheres are only four based on crust (geosphere), water (hydrosphere), life (biosphere), and air (atmosphere). The biosphere comprises of all the life on Earth. The remaining solid material (rocks, soil, and sand) is grouped under the geosphere, the liquid material (water) under the hydrosphere, and the gaseous material (air and water vapour) under the atmosphere. These spheres can be further divided into subgroups. So, the total number of spheres depends on the context.
4 Spheres of the Earth
The following are the 4 basic spheres of the Earth:
1. Geosphere or Lithosphere (land)
2. Hydrosphere (water)
3. Biosphere (life)
4. Atmosphere (air)

5 Spheres of the Earth
The ice can be separated from the rest of Hydrosphere as it's in solid state. The following are the 5 spheres of the Earth:
1. Geosphere
2. Hydrosphere
3. Cryosphere (ice)
4. Biosphere
5. Atmosphere

6 Spheres of the Earth
The humans can be separated from the rest of Biosphere. The following are the 6 spheres of the Earth:
1. Geosphere
2. Hydrosphere
3. Cryosphere
4. Biosphere
5. Anthroposphere or Technosphere (humans)
6. Atmosphere

7 Spheres of the Earth
The magnetic field of Earth is important for the habitable life and can be considered as a separate sphere. The following are the 7 spheres of the Earth:
1. Geosphere
2. Hydrosphere
3. Cryosphere
4. Biosphere
5. Anthroposphere
6. Atmosphere
7. Magnetosphere (magnetic field)

12 Spheres of the Earth
There are several other spheres that can be added based on subdivisions. The following are the 12 spheres of the Earth:
1. Geosphere
2. Lithosphere (rocks)
3. Asthenosphere (soft and fluid layer below lithosphere)
4. Pedosphere (soil)
5. Hydrosphere
6. Cryosphere
7. Biosphere
8. Anthroposphere
9. Atmosphere
10. Thermosphere (uppermost part of the atmosphere)
11. Stratosphere (ozone layer)
12. Magnetosphere

The constituents of Earth's spheres
Let's looks at the constituents of the Earth's spheres.

The Geosphere is the complete outershell of the Earth covering crust, land, rocks, sand, and soil. It comprises of both continental and oceanic crust.

The Lithosphere comprises of the rocks on the planet. The rocks are formed as a result of the rock cycle.

The crust of the Earth floats on the Asthenosphere. It's responsible for plate tectonics.

The Pedosphere comprises of the soil which is formed as a result of the weathering of the rocks.

The Hydrosphere comprises of all water on the planet that covers 71% of the Earth's surface. The existence of water created favorable conditions for the evolution of life on the planet. Hydrosphere separates Earth from other planets.

The Cryosphere comprises of all ice on the planet including glaciers, ice sheets, and frozen lakes. There is a significant overlap between Hydrosphere and Cryosphere as the water keeps changing its state as a part of the water cycle.

The life forms on land, air, oceans, and other waterbodies make up the Biosphere. The organisms rely on each other in the food chain.

The Anthroposphere comprises of all people on the planet. The humans interact with each other and the other spheres of the Earth.

The Atmosphere is the envelope of gases that surround the Earth. The air is denser towards the surface due to Earth's gravitational pull. The atmosphere comprises of the following 4 layers from bottom to top: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. The thermosphere has 2 layers: ionosphere and exosphere.

The Troposphere is the inner most layer of the atmosphere and covers 80% of the atmospheric mass. It comprises of the air we breath, most of the weather, and most of the air traffic flies in it.

The Stratosphere contains large concentration of ozone (O3). The ozone layer absorbs solar radiation and protects us from harmful solar rays like a shield.

The Mesosphere is a layer of Earth's atmosphere located directly above the stratosphere and below the thermosphere.

The Thermosphere is the uppermost part of the atmosphere which consists of the ionosphere and exosphere. The ionosphere contains a layer of electrons. The exosphere is the outer edge of the atmosphere which gradually fades into the space without a specific border.

The Magnetosphere is the region around Earth dominated by the Earth's magnetic field. It shields Earth from solar and cosmic particle radiation, as well as erosion of the atmosphere by the solar wind. The inner magnetosphere located above the ionosphere is called the Plasmasphere. It is a region of the Earth's magnetosphere consisting of low-energy (cool) plasma.
Last edited:


About us

  • Geology Buzz is a Geology forum for Geologists and Earth Science community. Get Geology News, Jobs, Courses, Maps, Photos, and articles from students and professionals. The forum covers multiple fields of Earth Science like Geology, Geophysics, Geochemistry, Hydrology, Geography, Engineering Geology, Petrology, Mineralogy, Structural Geology, Paleontology, and Environmental Geology. We have a community of Geologists, Geophysicists, Mining Engineers, Gemologists, Petroleum Engineers, and many others. Join Now!

Quick Navigation

User Menu