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Evolution of Continental Crust
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  1. Evolution ofContinental Crust Chapter 10

  2. Hypsographic Curve

  3. Continental Crust Terms • Orogeny • Epeirogeny • Terrane • Accreted Terrane • Mantle Plume • Hot Spot Volcanism • Wilson Cycle • Basin • Dome • Accretion • Craton • Shield

  4. Continental Crust • It’s thick (30-60km), • It’s old (250 - 4000 my), • It’s light (r = 2.75 g/cm3) • It’s silicic (dioritic to granitic in composition). • It has a stable interior called the craton. • It grows at active margins. • It does not subduct.

  5. Continental Crust • Because continental crust is thick and old, it has experienced and recorded many orogenic events. • It is extremely heterogeneous • Oldest continental rocks are about 4 billion years old. • The oldest oceanic rocks are only 200 million years old.

  6. Cratons and Shields • The craton is the stable interior part of the continent. • The craton may be covered by a thin (<2km) veneer of sedimentary rocks. • The shield is that portion of the craton that is free of sedimentary cover. • Shields occur in Canada, Southern Africa, Western Australia, and Scandinavia.

  7. Terranes • A terrane is a co-genetic block of crust. • Continents are composed of terranes or blocks of similar age and origin. • The terrane we are on gives a metamorphic age of 1800 my. • The CO-WY border is also a terrane boundary • The Wyoming terrane is Archean.

  8. Growth of Continents • Continents grow at active margins • They grow by addition of accreted or exotic terranes. • A exotic terrane (= accreted terrane) is a small block of crust “scraped off” a subducting plate. • Much of SE Alaska and British Columbia is composed of accreted terranes.

  9. Mountain Belts • An orogeny is an episode of mountain building. • An orogenic belt is a co-genetic belt of mountain ranges. (e.g. Alps, Himalayas, Rocky Mountains) • Mountain belts tend to have thicker sedimentary cover (2-10 km).

  10. Wilson Cycle • The cycle of opening and closing of ocean basins is called the Wilson Cycle. • Continents can be rifted by the formation of new ocean crust. • Continents can fuse or collide as in the Alpine-Himalaya orogeny.

  11. Plate tectonic movements and ocean basins Earth System Figure 10.18 (page 232) Go to next slide to begin

  12. Rifting splits the continent...

  13. …leading to the creation of new oceanic crust.

  14. Passive margin cooling occurs and sediment accumulates.

  15. Convergence begins: an oceanic plate subducts beneath a continental plate, creating a volcanic chain.

  16. Terrane accretion welds material to the continent.

  17. Orogeny thickens the crust and builds mountains, forming a new supercontinent.

  18. The continent erodes, thinning the crust. Rifting may begin the process again.

  19. Plumes and Hot Spots • A ‘Plume’ is a small convective upwelling from the mantle. • Plumes may cause ‘hot spot’ volcanism • Yellowstone • Hawaii

  20. Plume Hypothesis

  21. Orogeny and Epeirogeny • Orogeny is an episode of mountain building. • Himalayas Alps • Rocky Mtns Appalachians • Epeirogeny is regional vertical movement of continental crust • Glacial rebound in NE US • Rocky Mountains ??

  22. Epeirogeny: example Glacial Rebound

  23. Epeirogeny 1 mm/y = 1000 m/My (!!)

  24. Continental Crust • Western US has several terranes • Coast Ranges • Cascades - Sierra Nevada • Columbia Plateau • Snake River (Hot spot track?) • Basin and Range • Colorado Plateau • Rocky Mountains • Great Plains

  25. Continental Crust Terms • Wilson Cycle • Basin • Accretion • Craton • Shield • Orogeny • Epeirogeny • Terrane • Accreted Terrane • Mantle Plume • Hot Spot Volcanism • Hypsographic Curve

  26. Clicker Question:A small block of crust added on to the active margin of a continent is called a(n) • A. Accreted Terrane • B. Shield • C. Craton • D. Mantle Plume • E. Epeirogeny

  27. The stable interior portion of a continent is the: • A. Accreted Terrane • B. Shield • C. Craton • D. Mantle Plume • E. Epeirogeny

  28. An episode of mountain building is called a(n) • A. Accreted Terrane • B. Shield • C. Craton • D. Orogeny • E. Epeirogeny

  29. Upward or downward movement of a region of continental crust is called a(n) • A. Accreted Terrane • B. Shield • C. Craton • D. Orogeny • E. Epeirogeny

  30. The stable interior portion of a continent that is not covered by sediments is the: • A. Accreted Terrane • B. Shield • C. Craton • D. Mantle Plume • E. Epeirogeny