Continental Margin

Published: December 19, 2018 | Last updated: July 5, 2023

What Does Continental Margin Mean?

A continental margin constitutes about 28 percent of the ocean area and is the region that comprises of the continental shelf, continental slope and continental rise combined. The margin is the zone that separates the thin crust of the ocean from the thick crust of the continent.

An important feature of the continental margin is the presence of vast, deep canyons similar to those found on landforms that cut through the continental slope but rarely through the continental shelf.


Trenchlesspedia Explains Continental Margin

Continental margins can be active margins or passive margins. Active margins are usually found at the leading edge of the continent where subduction occurs and are narrow with steep descent into trenches. The active margin is marked by volcanic mountain belts and is the region where tectonic activities such as earthquakes take place, and volcanoes and new igneous rocks are formed.

The Pacific Ocean and eastern Indian Ocean are active margins. Passive margins are formed by sedimentation over an ancient rift. It is also the transition between the continental and oceanic crust created by continental rifting. The region around the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, western Indian Ocean, Africa, Australia, coast of North and South America has passive margins.


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