Continental Crust and Granitic Plutons

  • Takeru Yanagi
Part of the Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences book series (LNEARTH, volume 136)


It is well known that the solid Earth is wholly covered by a thin rock layer called the crust. The Earth’s crust is made up of two parts. One is oceanic crust and the other is continental crust. Oceanic crust occupies about 60% and continental crust occupies the remaining 40% of the solid Earth’s surface. Oceanic crust is generally believed to form at oceanic ridges by cooling and solidification of basaltic magma that forms from mantle convection. However, the origin of continental crust has not yet been clearly elucidated. Today, most researchers have come to think that continental crust has been separated from the mantle throughout the Earth’s history. However, there remains a wide range of opinions on the processes of its formation.


Continental Crust Oceanic Crust Greenstone Belt Mantle Convection Continental Collision 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abbott D, Sparks D, Herzberg C, Mooney W, Nkishin A, Zhang YS (2000) Quantifying Precambrian crustal extraction: the root is the answer. Tectonophysics 322:163–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armstrong RL (1981) Radiogenic isotopes: the case for crustal recycling on a near-steady-state no-continental-growth Earth. Philos Trans R Soc Lond A 301:443–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armstrong RL, Hein SM (1973) Computer simulation of Pb and Sr isotope evolution of the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 37:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bowring SA, Williams IS (1999) Priscoan (4.00-4.03 Ga) orthogenesis from northwest Canada. Contrib Miner Petrol 134:3–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Condie KC (1998) Episodic continental growth and supercontinents: a mantle avalanche convection? Earth Plane Sci Lett 163:97–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Coney PJ, Jones DL, Monger JWH (1980) Cordilleran suspect terranes. Nature 288:329–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Holbrook WS, Lizarralde D, McGeary S, Bangs N, Diebold J (1999) Structure and composition of the Aleutian island arc and implications for continental crustal growth. Geology 27:31–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hurley PM, Rand JR (1969) Pre-drift continental nuclei. Science 164:1229–1242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hurley PM, Hughes H, Faure G, Fairbairn HW, Pinson WH (1962) Radiogenic strontium-87 model of continental formation. J Geophys Res 67:5315–5334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Komiya T, Maruyama S, Masuda T, Nohda S, Okamoto K (1999) Plate tectonics at 3.8-3.7 Ga; Field evidence from the Isua accretionary complex, West Greenland. J Geol 107:515–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lizarralde D, Holbrook WS, McGreary S, Bangs N, Diebold JB (2002) Crustal construction of volcanic arc, wide-angle seismic results from the western Alaska Peninsula. J Geophys Res 107. doi:10.1029/2001JB000230Google Scholar
  12. Metcalfe I (2006) Palaeozoic and Mesozoic tectonic evolution and palaeogeography of East Asian crustal fragments: the Korean Peninsular in context. Gondwana Res 9:24–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Metcalfe I (2009) Late Palaeozoic and Mesozoic tectonic and palaeogeographical evolution of SE Asia. Geol Soc Spec Pub 315:7–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nutman AP (2006) Antiquity of the oceans and continents. Elements 2:223–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nutman AP, McGregor VR, Friend CRL, Bennet VC, Kinny PD (1996) The Itsaq Gneiss Complex of southern West Greenland: the world’s most extensive record of early crustal evolution (3900-3600 Ma). Precamb Res 78:1–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. O’Neil J, Maurice C, Stevenson RK, Larocque J, Cloquet C, David J, Francis D (2007) The geology of the 3.8 Ga Nuvvuagittuq (Porpoise Cove) greenstone belt, Northeastern Superior Province, Canada. In: Martin J, Kranendonk V, Smithies RH, Bennett VC (eds) Earth’s oldest rocks, Condie KC (Series ed) Developments in Precambrian Geology 15, 219–250Google Scholar
  17. O’Neil J, Carlson RW, Francis D, Stevenson RK (2008) Neodymium-142 evidence for Hadean mafic crust. Science 321:1828–1831CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. O’Neil J, Carlson RW, Francis D, Stevenson RK (2009) Response to comment on “Neodymium-142 evidence for Hadean mafic crust”. Science 325:267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Reymer A, Schubert G (1986) Rapid growth of some major segments of continental crust. Geology 14:299–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rino S, Komiya T, Windley BF, Katayama I, Motoki A, Hirata T (2004) Major episodic increases of continental crustal growth determined from zircon ages of river sands; implications for mantle overturns in the early Precambrian. Phys Earth Planet Inter 146:369–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Suehiro K, Takahashi N, Ariie Y, Yokoi Y, Hino R, Shinohara M, Kanazawa T, Hirata N, Tokuyama H, Taira A (1996) Continental crust, crustal underplating, and low-Q upper mantle beneath an oceanic island arc. Science 272:390–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Taira A, Tashiro M (1987) Late Paleozoic and Mesozoic accretion tectonics in Japan and eastern Asia. In: Taira A, Tashiro M (eds) Hisrtorical biogeography and plate tectonic evolution of Japan and Eastern Asia. Terra Scientific Publishing Company,Tokyo, pp 1–43Google Scholar
  23. Wilde SA, Valley JW, Peck WH, Graham CM (2001) Evidence from detrital zircons for the existence of continental crust and oceans on the Earth 4.4 Gyr ago. Nature 409:175–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Zhao D, Horiuchi S, Hasegawa A (1992) Seismic velocity structure of the crust beneath the Japan Islands. Tectonophysics 212:289–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FukuokaJapan

Personalised recommendations