A Budget for Continental Growth and Denudation

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  25 Jul 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4762, pp. 446-449
DOI: 10.1126/science.233.4762.446


Oceanic crustal material on a global scale is re-created every 110 million years. From the data presented it is inferred that potential sialic material is formed at a rate of about 1.35 cubic kilometers per year, including hemipelagic volcanic sediments that accumulate at a rate of about 0.05 cubic kilometer per year. It is estimated that the influx of 1.65 cubic kilometers per year of terrigenous and biogenic sediment is deposited on the deep ocean, and this represents continental denudation. Because all this material is brought into a subduction zone, continental accretion rates, which could include all this material, may be as high as 3.0 cubic kilometers per year with a potential net growth for continents of 1.35 cubic kilometers per year.