What is the Difference between Oceanic Crust and Continental Crust?

What are Tectonic Plates made of? What is the Difference between Crust and Plate? Why is the Oceanic Crust thinner than the Continental Crust? Is the Indian Plate Oceanic or Continental?
what is the difference between oceanic crust and continental crust

The term crust refers to a terrestrial planet’s outermost shell. Basically, older, heavier continental crust and younger, denser oceanic crust make up the crust. The crust, mantle, and core are the three layers of the Earth. The crust is made up of solid rocks and minerals. The tectonic plate has an impact on the Earth’s crust’s dynamic geology. There are two forms of crust on Earth: oceanic crust and continental crust. The Conrad discontinuity refers to the transition zone between these two types of crust. Continue reading to learn about the difference between oceanic crust and continental crust.

1. What is a Tectonic Plate?

A tectonic plate is a huge, unevenly shaped solid rock slab made up of both continental and oceanic lithosphere. The Pacific and Antarctic Plates are among the largest, with diameters ranging from a few hundred to thousands of kilometers. Plate thickness varies dramatically. The thickness ranges from less than 15 kilometers for the new oceanic lithosphere to more than 200 kilometers for the old continental lithosphere. (See What are Physical Features in Geography?)

2. What are Tectonic Plates made of?

Earth’s lithosphere, crust, and upper mantle make up tectonic plates, which are enormous slabs of solid rock. (See What makes up the Lithosphere?)

3. What are the Types of Plate Tectonics?

Tectonics Plates: difference between oceanic crust and continental crust 2

There are three types of plate tectonics:

  • Convergent boundaries: When one or both tectonic plates are made up of oceanic crust, subduction zones form. The less-dense plate is subducted beneath the denser plate. The plate that is pushed under gets melted and destroyed. Convergent boundaries are when two plates collide.
  • Divergent boundaries: The fresh crustal material formed by the molten lava below can also be used to plug the hole. Divergent barriers can occur within continents. But they will eventually open up and create ocean basins. When two plates move apart, they form divergent borders.
  • Transform boundaries: The plates’ relative motion is horizontal. They can happen underwater and on land, and neither the crust is destroyed nor generated. Plates slide past each other at transform borders. (See How many Islands in the Philippines are Known?)

4. What is Crust?

The crust of a rocky planet, dwarf planet, or natural satellite is the outermost solid shell in geology. Its chemical composition can normally be separated from the overlying mantle. (See What Is Earth’s Core Made Of?)

5. What is the Crust of the Earth made of?

difference between oceanic crust and continental crust 3

The crust of the Earth is a thin layer that covers the planet’s surface and accounts for less than 1% of its total volume. Igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks make up the Earth’s crust, from mud and clay to diamonds and coal. Igneous rocks, created by the cooling of lava, are the most common rocks in the crust. Also, check out what are the 6 Layers of the Earth?

6. What is the Difference between Crust and Plate?

The crust is the Earth’s outer shell, while the plates are the parts that move due to mantle convection. However, plates, which are massive portions of the Earth’s crust, are divided. These tectonic plates move because the convecting mantle supports them. The oceanic crust and the continental crust can both be found on these plates.  Check out what is the Biggest Thing on Earth?

7. What is Continental Crust?

Earth Crust

The geological continents and the shallow seafloor near their shores, known as continental shelves, are formed by a layer of volcanic, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks known as the continental crust. Almost most of Earth’s land surface is made up of continental crust. Also, check out how are Volcanoes distributed on the Map?

8. What is Oceanic Crust?

The oceanic crust is the uppermost layer of the oceanic part of the tectonic plates. It comprises pillow lava and a dike complex in the top oceanic crust, and troctolite, gabbro, and ultramafic cumulates in the lower oceanic crust. The age and density of oceanic crust increase with increasing distance from mid-ocean ridges. (Also read Why is Europe called the Peninsula of Peninsulas?)

9. What is the Difference between Oceanic Crust and Continental Crust?

Oceanic and continental crusts have quite different compositions and characteristics. Even though they are both the Earth’s top layers, there is a list of the distinct difference between oceanic crust and continental crust.

  • The marine crust is made up of basalt, while the continental crust is made of granite.
  • In comparison to the oceanic crust, the continental crust is substantially thicker.
  • In comparison to the oceanic crust, the continental crust is buoyant.
  • The oceanic crust recycles, but the continental crust does not. (See How do Mountains affect Dry Areas like Nevada?)

10. What is the Difference in Density Between Oceanic and Continental Crust?

While considering the difference between oceanic crust and continental crust, the density also differs. Continental crust is granitic and slightly lighter than oceanic crust. The oceanic crust is basaltic in composition, richer in iron and magnesium than granite, and has a density of 2.9 to 3 grams per cubic centimeter. Must read what is the difference between a Sea and Ocean?

11. Why is the Oceanic Crust thinner than the Continental Crust?

difference between oceanic crust and continental crust 1

Just because the oceanic crust regenerates, it is thinner than the continental crust. It arises at oceanic ridges or other sources (divergent plate boundaries) and spreads away from the point of origin through time, becoming thinner as it does so. This aspect holds a point for the difference between oceanic crust and continental crust. (See How long does it Take to Walk around the Earth?)

12. What are the Similarities Between Oceanic and Continental Crust?

After learning the difference between oceanic crust and continental crust, let us move on to the similarities between them.

  • Less dense layers, such as the mantle, float on top of denser ones and can be found in the oceanic crust and continental crust.
  • Both are suspended above the denser mantle. Must read what are properties in Science?
  • These layers make up the crust, which is the uppermost component of the Earth. (See What is the Main Source of Water?)

13. Is Indian Plate Oceanic or Continental?

At the same time, the Indian plate is both oceanic and continental. The Indian Plate, together with modern-day Africa, Australia, and South America, were all part of the supercontinent Gondwana until around 140 million years ago. (See How are Typhoons formed?)

14. Is Antarctic Plate Oceanic or Continental?

Antarctica’s continental crust, continental shelf, and oceanic crust beneath the seas surrounding Antarctica make up the Antarctic Plate. Most tectonic plate borders have geography that includes both oceanic and continental crust. The Antarctic Plate encompasses the entire continent of Antarctica and the majority of the surrounding ocean. (See What are the Names of Coldest Places on Earth?)

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