Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Harsh K. Gupta

Continental Crustal Structure

  • Rolf Meissner
  • Hartmut KernEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-10475-7_30-1


Seismic reflection and refraction profiling supplying velocity-depth functions and relations to petrology is the key to probe the continental crust.


In the last 20 years, much progress has been made in the development of geophysical techniques that increased our knowledge about the variability of crustal structure substantially (see “ Deep Seismic Reflection and Refraction Profiling”). A big misunderstanding, still often presented today, is the use of the phrase “the” crust. This is a marked oversimplification. Continental crust has been found to be extremely different (Christensen and Mooney 1995; Mooney 2015; Rudnick and Gao 2014; Hacker et al. 2015). There are at least three main types to be distinguished (see “ Lithosphere, Continental”).
  1. 1.

    Thick, old cratons, shields, and platforms

  2. 2.

    Orogens, often related to continental subduction

  3. 3.

    Extensional areas, including shelves and rifts


ThickPrecambrian cratons, disrupted by early plate tectonics, are...

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We greatly appreciate the assistance of Gudrun Reim (Kiel) in preparing the figures, and we thank Walter Mooney (Menlo Park) for his review, leading to many improvements of the manuscript.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KielGermany