Continental crust is very long-lived but continents themselves are ephemeral. Earth's inventory of continental crust changes slowly but how this material is partitioned into separate aggregations is always changing. We call these distinct aggregations of buoyant, felsic crust “continents” and now there are 6 of them: North America, South America, Antarctica, Eurasia, Africa, and Australia. There are many smaller minicontinents like Arabia, Madagascar, and Greenland. From the human perspective, these names have great significance as the sites of our nations, civilizations, and cultures, but the names of continents are not useful in the long run because continents gain and lose...

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