Difference Between Oceanic Crust and Continental Crust

Earth is the only planet which has life, it has life integral form for example flora and fauna oxygen, water, etc.. Earth is a large planet which has a large number of geological features. It has landed in some areas, it has water in some areas, it has aired all over the planet.

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

In the portions which are occupied by land have different types of soil, land crusts, etc., 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 earth has several layers of land under the main crust. Beneath the crust  there are two more layers, those are Mantle and Core.

The core is the most inner layer of earth which is said to be the hottest part of Earth above that Mantle is there which consists of several layers and above all of them, there is the crust. The crust is of two types; Oceanic crust and continental crust.

Oceanic Crust vs Continental Crust

The main difference between Oceanic crust and Continental crust is their composition and properties. Both of them are the uppermost layer of Earth but they have differences between them.

Oceanic Crust vs Continental Crust


Comparison Table Between Oceanic Crust and Continental Crust

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?

Oceanic crust is the craft which 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.

The oceanic crust consists of basalt which is made up of black-coloured rock. This rock is fulfilled with minerals like silicon, oxygen, and magnesium. The oceanic crust takes years to form and it undergoes a process.

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. And this is how oceanic crust never ages because it keeps on recycling.

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

Term used for oceanic crust rock is sima a short form of magnesium silicates Another term used for these rocks is mafic, they are high in iron and magnesium. The ocean floor is the result of smooth pillows of dark and dense basalt rock.

There are few ridges where it is possible to go and feel the thin oceanic crust For example Iceland. There are mid-ocean ridges which are the mountains formed under the seawater across the ocean that covers Especially 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 kilometre. Even the longest mountain range on earth.


What is Continental Crust?

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

Continental crust is made up of granite which is lighter in colour, and this Rock contains aluminium-silicon and oxygen. The density of Continental crust is lower than oceanic crust and it accounts for 2.63g / cm3.

Due to the difference between the densities of both Continental Crust and Oceanic crust, the balance of continent land is maintained and both crusts can float on magma. The continent crust flows more freely on the 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 which is around 35 kilometres and in Mountain areas, this thickness Increases up to 40 miles which are around 70 kilometres.   

The continental crust can be defined as the amalgamation of igneous, sedimentary And Metamorphic rocks Which forms a continent. The areas around the shallow sea bed are known as Continental shelves.

The reason behind the thickness of Continental crust is the Compressive forces related to subduction or a continental collision. The floating ability of the crust forces it upwards, the forces of Collisional are balanced by gravity and erosion. This procedure also helps to form the keel for mountain ranges which is also the thickest crust of the earth.

Continental crust is responsible for the land portion of Earth. It is the outermost layer of the lithosphere, and it forms the surface of the land. The reason behind the low density of Continental crust is that it floats on the uppermost part of Mantle. Also, they are made up of different rocks which affect their density.

Main Differences Between Oceanic Crust and Continental Crust

  1. Continental crust is low in density whereas oceanic crust has a higher density.
  2. Continental crust is thicker, on the contrary, the oceanic crust is thinner.
  3. Continental crust floats on magma freely but oceanic crust floats on magma scarcely.
  4. Continental crust cannot recycle whereas oceanic crust can recycle it.
  5. Continental crust is made up of granite salt on the other hand oceanic crust is made up of basalt rock.



Both oceanic crusts as well as continental crust forms different surfaces of the earth. Both of them are equally important for the earth. There are a lot of differences between the two but yet they help each other in maintaining the balance of continents.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0012821X8890132X
  2. https://eps.rutgers.edu/images/Publications_PDFS/ngeo2392.pdf
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