Forces That Made Europe
The earth is covered by a thin, brittle layer called the lithosphere. This term is used here interchangeably with "the Earth's crust." Below the lithosphere is the asthenosphere, where solid rock stretches and flows. The lithosphere is composed of sections, called plates, and floats on top of the asthenosphere, because it is less dense than the asthenosphere. The motion of a tireless heat engine swirls and stirs the asthenosphere, moving the plates.
Over hundreds of millions of years, the plates have come together to form continents, including Europe. Other processes, such as sedimentation and erosion, modify the shape of the land that has been forged by plate tectonics.