What Is the Temperature of the Continental Crust?

The temperature of the continental crust varies depending on location and depth; at the surface, the continental crust exists at the same temperature as the outside air, while its inner core reaches temperatures up to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. The continental crust consists of many levels, and exists on land and underneath the ocean. The top layer of the crust below the ocean floor typically experiences cooler temperatures than the crust forming the ground on land masses, but both have hot inner cores.

In oceans, the continental crust ranges in depth from three to five miles. However, it extends up to 25 feet beneath the land´s surface. The difference in length stems primarily from age: crusts beneath the Earth's continents formed several billion years ago, while oceanic crusts emerged much more recently.

The composition of the crust across Earth varies depending on the temperature and location. Areas closer to the surface, which experience cooler and milder temperatures, form primarily from hard substances like rocks and minerals. Journeying down into the core, however, brings a change in geological landscape from hard rocks and gems to bubbling, boiling lava. Crusts beneath the ocean form primarily from dense rocks, such as basalt. Crusts below the continents, however, derive from lighter rocks like granite.