Chemical Composition of Continental Crust and the Primitive Mantle

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


To study the origin of continental crust, we need to first know its structure and chemical composition, as well as the chemical composition of the primitive mantle that is the source of continental crust. The Earth’s continental crust comprises large continents, such as Eurasia and Africa, and islands with continental crust such as Greenland and New Guinea. This definition also includes mature island arcs, such as the Japanese islands and the Sunda arc, as well as submarine plateaus, such as the Seychelles plateau. The total area of continental crust is 2.1 × 108 km2, covering 41.2% of the solid Earth’s surface (Cogley 1984). Its mass is 2.09 × 1022 kg, corresponding to 0.52% of the mass of the mantle (Taylor and McLennan 1985). Its thickness ranges from 14 to 80 km, averaging 41.1 km (Christensen and Mooney 1995).


Continental Crust Oceanic Crust Lower Crust Primitive Mantle Granitic Pluton 
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. Anderson DL (1983) Chemical composition of the mantle. J Geophys Res 88:B41–B52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Christensen NI, Mooney WD (1995) Seismic velocity structure and composition of the continental crust: a global view. J Geophys Res 100(B7):9761–9788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cogley JG (1984) Continental margins and the extent and number of the continents. Rev Geophys Space Phys 22:101–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Condie KC (1993) Chemical composition and evolution of the upper continental crust: contrasting results from surface samples and shales. Chem Geol 104:1–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Condie KC (1997) Plate tectonics and crustal evolution. Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston, 282 pGoogle Scholar
  6. Fahrig WF, Eade KE (1968) The chemical evolution of the Canadian shield. Can J Earth Sci 5:1247–1252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gao S, Luo T-C, Zhang B-R, Zhang H-F, Han YW, Zhao Z-D, Hu Y-K (1998) Chemical composition of the continental crust as revealed by studies in East China. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 62:1959–1975CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McDonough WF, Sun S-s (1995) The composition of the Earth. Chemical Geol 120:223–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Poldervaart A (1955) Chemistry of the earth’s crust. Geol Soc Am Spec Paper 62:119–144Google Scholar
  10. Raitt RW (1963) The crustal rocks. In: Hill MN (ed) The sea, vol 3. Wiley-Interscience, New York, pp 85–102Google Scholar
  11. Ringwood AE (1991) Phase transformations and their bearing on the constitution and dynamics of the mantle. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 55:2083–2110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ronov AB, Yaroshevsky AA (1969) Chemical composition of the Earth’s crust. In: Hart PJ (ed) The earth’s crust and upper mantle, geophysical monograph, vol 13. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, pp 37–57Google Scholar
  13. Rudnick RL, Fountain DM (1995) Nature and composition of the continental crust: a lower crustal perspective. Rev Geophys 33:267–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Shaw DM, Cramer JJ, Higgins MD, Truscott MG (1986) Composition of the Canadian Precambrian shield and the continental crust of the earth. In: Dawson JB, Carswell DA, Hall J, Wedepohl KH (eds) The nature of the lower continental crust, vol 24, Geological Society Special Publication. Blackwell Scientific Publication, Oxford, pp 275–282Google Scholar
  15. Taylor SR, McLennan SM (1981) The composition and evolution of the continental crust: rare earth element evidence from sedimentary rocks. Philos Trans R Soc Lond A 301:381–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Taylor SR, McLennan SM (1985) The continental crust: its composition and evolution. Blackwell Scientific Publication, Carlton, 312 pGoogle Scholar
  17. Wedepohl KH (1995) The composition of the continental crust. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 59:1217–1232CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FukuokaJapan

Personalised recommendations