A lithosphere (Ancient Greek: λίθος [líthos] for "rocky", and σφαίρα [sphaíra] for "sphere") is the rigid,[1] outermost shell of a terrestrial-type planet or natural satellite. On Earth, it is composed of the crust and the portion of the upper mantle that behaves elastically on time scales of up to thousands of years or more. The crust and upper mantle are distinguished on the basis of chemistry and mineralogy.

The tectonic plates of the lithosphere on Earth
Earth cutaway from center to surface, the lithosphere comprising the crust and lithospheric mantle (detail not to scale)