he continental margin is the submerged shelf and slope forming the outer edge of a major landmass. The differences between oceanic and continental crust composition are fundamental in margin development. The transition betweenthe two crustal types lies under the area of the continental slope with the shelf over continental crust and oceanic crust below the continental rise. The difference in densities and isostatic balance of the continental to oceanic crustal blocks isexpressed dramatically by the presence of a continental slope, which is the great declivity from the shelf break downwardto deep ocean depths. It is a continuous and impressive geomorphic feature -- an escarpment of more than three kilometersheight and 15 to 50 km width that extends for more than 350,000 kilometers.The continental shelf is the submerged part of the continent lying between the coastline andthe shelf break, which is the change ininclination marking the boundary betweencontinental shelf and slope. The averagegradient of the shelf is only seven minutes of inclination, and off coastal plain shorelines, theshelf is a submerged continuation of the plainthat has alternated between submergence andemergence during geologic time.Plate tectonics provides the framework for interpreting the history and character of thecontinental margins. Plate movements and the basic difference in the density of oceanic andcontinental crustal units initiate the structural pattern of continental margins and result in atectonic classification of coastlines as active(Pacific, leading edge) or passive (Atlantic,trailing edge) margins, each of which havecertain fundamental characteristics.Active continental margins, where plates are converging, coincide with plate boundaries, where the continental andoceanic crust are separated by a subduction zone. These margins are active tectonically and have less width and sedimentinput than passive margins. They are also marked by the addition of blocks from distant sources to the continental mass atthe subduction zone. Passive margins are within plates and are separated from the oceanic ridge plate margin by anexpanse of oceanic crust that was generated after rifting. Oceanic and continental crust meet in a region of low tectonicactivity that does however experience a broad pattern of subsidence. Passive margins are generally wide and may receivea large influx of terrigenous sediments or intrabasin carbonate sedimentation from local sources.This presentation is divided into three parts – examination of continental margin structure, sediment patterns on themargins and the morphology or surface features. Composition of the margin rocks – carbonate or terrigenious – producesdifferent features. But the history of most margins shows periods of both carbonate and terrigenous development.
late tectonics provides us with basic types of continental margin. The difference between passive and active marginsis basic to describing the structure and morphology.