Passive margin

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A passive margin is the transition between oceanic and continental crust which is not an active plate margin. It is constructed by sedimentation above an ancient rift, now marked by transitional crust. Continental rifting creates new ocean basins. Eventually the continental rift forms a mid-oceanic ridge and the locus of extension moves away from the continent-ocean boundary. The transition between the continental and oceanic crust that was originally created by rifting is known as a passive margin.

Global distribution

Passive margins are found at every ocean and continent boundary that is not marked by a strike-slip fault or a subduction zone. Passive margins define the region around the Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and western Indian Ocean, and define the entire coasts of Africa, Greenland, India and Australia. They are also found on the east coast of North America and South America, in western Europe and most of Antarctica. East Asia also contains some passive margins.

Key components

Active vs. passive margins

This refers to whether a crustal boundary between tracts oceanic and continental crusts are boundaries of plates or not. Active margins are found on the leading edge of a continent where subduction occurs. These are often marked by uplift and volcanic mountain belts on the continental plate, and by island-arc chains on the oceanic plate. Less often there is a strike-slip fault, as is defining the southern coastline of W. Africa. Most of the eastern Indian......
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