Chapter 1 – A Great Discovery
Hamburg, Germany, May 1862, Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew, Axel, decoded a message written 300 years ago by a famous Icelandic explorer, Arne Saknussemm. In his coded message, Arne Saknussem wrote that he had been to the center of the earth and he went on to describe how he did it. Brushing aside the concerns of his nephew, the Professor insists that Axel accompany him on the expedition. Sadly, Axel takes his leave from his beloved Gretchen.
Chapter 2 – Our Journey Begins
Professor Lindenbrock and Axel travel for ten days by ship before reaching Iceland. Professor Lidenbrock employs, Hans Bjelke, as their guide on their adventure. Gathering supplies, the trio depart for Mt. Sneffels, the point through which they can gain access to the core of the earth. Ten days later, on Monday, June 29th, they reach the top of Mount Sneffel. The shadow of the afternoon sun shows which crater they should descend.
Chapter 3 – Into the Earth
The trio descend into the crater and they travel downward until they reach the bottom of the pit. There are two tunnels and the Professor chooses the one on the right. After several days trekking underground and almost out of water, they have to retrace their steps because the path leads to a dead end. Finally returning to the beginning of the two tunnels, Axel collapses and assumes they will return to the surface. Although the Professor shows concern for Axel, he asks for one more day to find water before they abandon the journey. On Wednesday, July 8, they descend into the second tunnel and emerge into a chamber of clear white mica. The chamber resembles a giant diamond cavern.
Chapter 4 – Lost
Hans finds an underground river and they quench their thirst. On Thursday, July 9, they continue on with their journey. By the next evening the professor estimates their position to be 90 miles southeast of Mount Sneffels and eight miles deep. They come to an abyss and make their way down a naturally formed staircase. On Sunday, July 12, they climb down about 20 miles. Over the next two weeks they climb down deeper and deeper into the earth. On Thursday, August 6, Axel finds himself alone. In desperation he retraces his steps but becomes hopelessly lost.
Chapter 5 – The Great Sea
It is only after much suffering that Axel is reunited with his uncle and Hans. They can hear the sound of waves. In fact, the three have arrived at a vast underground body of water which is given the name Lidenbrock Sea. Exploring the area around the sea, the travellers find what looks like a forest of giant mushrooms. They also see ferns as tall as trees and a mastodon skeleton. On Tuesday, August 11, the Professor decides that they must cross the ocean. Hans builds a raft from giant reeds and a sail from a sleeping rug. On Thursday, August 13, they push out to sea leaving behind the shore which they named Port Gretchen. The raft moves quickly and they travel about 75 miles in 24 hours. On Friday, August 14, Hans drops a hook and soon a fish is caught. It is an ancient species long extinct in the world above and they cook it for their meal. The professor wants to learn the depth of the sea so Hans attaches a pickaxe to a long rope and throws it overboard. When Hans retrieves the pickaxe it bears marks that look like teeth. On Tuesday, August 18, two huge sea monsters surface, battle, and almost swamp the raft. On Friday, August 21, a storm hits them. The raft is eventually cast up on a rocky shore in the midst of the storm and Hans carries Axel to safety. As the storm dies down they find, to their dismay, that they have been carried back to the same shore from which they left.
Chapter 6 – The Boiling Tunnel
Exploring an area which is farther along the shore than their starting point, the Professor and Axel find a huge field of bones. The Professor is delighted when they find a human skull. Continuing their exploration they come across a vast forest of prehistoric plants. They spot gigantic mastodons and in the distance see a twelve-foot tall human being. Afraid of confrontation, they leave the area. Going back to the shore they find a huge rock, with the initials A. S. carved on it, beside the entrance to a dark tunnel. With evidence that Arne Saknussemm has traveled this way, they enter the passage only to discover that it is blocked by a big boulder. They decide to blast the boulder using gunpowder. They set the charge and retreat to the raft. The explosion opens a deep hole that lets in the underground sea. They and their raft are swept along with the rushing waters. They head up the tunnel at an amazing speed. They ascend swiftly as the waters push up the raft along a narrow shaft. Axel worries about the rising temperature. The trio soon discover that the water beneath the raft is boiling hot. Finally Axel sees a tiny circle of light above. The professor realizes that they are inside an erupting volcano which leads out to the earth's surface. They land outside the volcano. While making their way down, they learn from a young shepherd that they are on the island of Stromboli in Italy. They have entered the earth by one volcano and come out by another, over 3,000 miles apart. Four months after discovering Arne Saknussemm's coded message they return to Hamburg where the trio are treated like heroes and the Professor's achievements are recognized.