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This volume contains a series of papers related to aspects of the evolution of continental crust through time. Most of the papers were presented as keynote, invited, and volunteered papers at the 17th International Basement Tectonics Conference in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 27 June–1 July 2004. Several additional papers were submitted independent of the conference. This conference was one of a series conducted under the auspices of the International Basement Tectonics Association, the first of which was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1975 and organized by S. Parker Gay Jr. In addition, the 2004 conference was cosponsored by the Geological Society of America, the American Geological Institute, the American Geophysical Union, the University of Tennessee–Knoxville, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Partial financial support for the conference, primarily for key international participants, some key U.S. participants, and students, was provided by the National Science Foundation. Partial support for field trips was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. Additional financial support was provided by the University of Tennessee Science Alliance Center of Excellence.

Papers in the volume are broadly grouped into general papers, papers discussing accretionary orogens, structural geology papers, papers on Precambrian crust-forming processes, and papers on Paleozoic crust-forming processes. All make important contributions toward our understanding of the plate tectonics and possibly pre–plate tectonics (Hamilton) processes that form and modify continental crust through time.

All papers were reviewed by qualified specialists in the different topics of papers submitted for this volume. They were revised with considerable improvement of all manuscripts before being accepted by the editors for publication. We acknowledge the following for their conscientious and helpful reviews; their reviews largely determine the quality of papers published in the book: John N. Aleinikoff, J. Lawford Anderson, David Barbeau Jr., Mervin J. Bartholomew, Wouter Bleeker, Jean-Pierre Burg, Peter A. Cawood, Kent C. Condie, John O. Costello, John F. Dewey, William R. Dickinson, William M. Dunne, Bernard W. Evans, Rodger T. Faill, Peter Geiser, M. Charles Gilbert, Warren B. Hamilton, Thomas B. Hanley, Michael W. Higgins, David M. Hirsch, Raymond V. Ingersoll, Suzanne M. Kay, Theodore C. Labotka, Edward G. Lidiak, Harry Y. McSween, Kevin L. Mickus, Brent V. Miller, Eric W. Mountjoy, R. Damian Nance, Charles M. Onasch, Annie Rassios, Steven Schamel, Donald T. Secor Jr., Frank S. Spear, Mark G. Steltenpohl, James F. Tull, W. Randall Van Schmus, Martin J. Van Krannendonk, Cees R. van Staal, and Donald U. Wise. Some reviewers kindly reviewed more than one paper, and the editors, in addition to serving as “associate editors,” reviewed a few papers. A few reviewers requested to remain anonymous, and are not listed. We also appreciate the guidance of former GSA Books Editor Abhijit Basu during the completion of this volume.

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