Oceanic vs Continental Crust: Difference and Comparison

Earth is the only planet with life; it has life’s integral forms, such as flora and fauna, oxygen, water, etc. Earth is a large planet that has a large number of geological features.

The earth’s geological features contain a variety of mountains, plateaus, ocean seas, plains, forests, volcanoes, etc. The geological features of any place affect the life of people over there.

The portions occupied by land have different types of soil, land crusts, etc., and the density of land is not the same everywhere. In some places, there will be a thin crust of land, and in some parts, there might be a strong crust of land.

The variations of crusts affect the lives of people and animals. According to geology, the Earth has several layers of land under the main crust.

The core is the inner layer of the earth and is said to be the hottest part of the Earth. Above that Mantle is there, consisting of several layers, and above all, there is the crust.

Key Takeaways

  1. Oceanic crust is the Earth’s crust located beneath the ocean, composed mainly of dense, dark rocks like basalt, and is thinner than continental crust.
  2. Continental crust is the Earth’s crust that forms continents, comprised mainly of lighter, less dense rocks like granite, and is thicker than oceanic crust.
  3. The primary differences between oceanic and continental crust lie in their composition, density, thickness, and location on the Earth’s surface.

Oceanic Crust vs. Continental Crust

Oceanic crust is the outermost layer of the Earth’s ocean floors, composed of basaltic rock that is denser and thinner than continental crust. The continental crust is the uppermost layer of the Earth’s landmasses, consisting of a variety of rock types, including granite and sedimentary rocks.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonOceanic crustContinental crust
DensityHigh densityLow density
Ability to floatScarcely floatsFreely floats
Type of rocksBasalt rockGranite rock
Ability to recycleHas the ability to recycle.Do not have the ability to recycle.


What is Oceanic Crust?

The oceanic crust is the craft that covers Earth’s oceanic base. It has a density of 3.0 g/ cm3. It is said to be a thin layer when compared to continental crust.

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The oceanic crust consists of basalt, made of black-colored rock. This rock is filled with minerals like silicon, oxygen, and magnesium.

In several years this crust gathers a layer of cooled mantle surface underside, and the two layers accumulate to sink into the hot molten mantle.

The thickness of the oceanic crust is 3 to 6 miles or 5 to 10 kilometers. It consists of different layers; the uppermost layer of oceanic crust is 500 meters thick and consists of lava made up of basalt.

Oceanic crust rock is called sima, a short form of magnesium silicates. Another term used for these rocks is mafic; they are high in iron and magnesium.

There are mid-ocean ridges, the mountains formed under the seawater across the ocean that covers the European and the North American plates.

The one along which that continues to cover all the oceans and the distance It covers is 49700 kilometers. Even the longest mountain range on Earth.

oceanic crust

What is Continental Crust?

The continental crust is the Uppermost layer of Earth’s surface, constituting around 40% of Earth. This layer is comparatively stronger and thicker than the oceanic crust.

The continental crust is made up of granite which is lighter in color, and this Rock contains aluminum-silicon and oxygen. The density of the Continental crust is lower than the oceanic crust, accounting for 2.63g / cm3.

Due to the difference between the Continental Crust and Oceanic crust densities, the balance of continent land is maintained, and both crusts can float on magma.

The continental crust is thicker and has a difference in thickness in planes and mountain areas. In plains, it has a thickness of 20 miles, around 35 kilometers, and in Mountain areas, this thickness Increases up to 40 miles, around 70 kilometers.   

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The continental crust can be defined as the amalgamation of igneous, sedimentary, And Metamorphic rocks Which forms a continent.

The reason behind the thickness of the Continental crust is the Compressive forces related to subduction or a continental collision.

The continental crust is responsible for the land portion of Earth. It is the outermost layer of the lithosphere, and it forms the land’s surface.

continental crust

Main Differences Between Oceanic Crust and Continental Crust

  1. The continental crust cannot recycle, whereas the oceanic crust can recycle.
  2. The continental crust is made up of granite salt. On the other hand oceanic crust is made up of basalt rock.
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  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0012821X8890132X
  2. https://eps.rutgers.edu/images/Publications_PDFS/ngeo2392.pdf

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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