A craton (Greek: κράτος kratos "strength") is an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere. Having often survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents, cratons are generally found in the interiors of tectonic plates. They are characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock, which may be covered by younger sedimentary rock. They have a thick crust and deep lithospheric roots that extend as much as a few hundred kilometers into the Earth's mantle.

The term craton is used to distinguish the stable portion of the continental crust from regions that are more geologically active and unstable. Cratons can be described as shields, in which the basement rock crops out at the surface, and platforms, in which the basement is overlain by sediments and sedimentary rock.

The word craton was first proposed by the German geologist L. Kober in 1921 as "Kratogen", referring to stable continental platforms, and "orogen" as a term for mountain or orogenic belts. Later authors shortened the former term to kraton and then to craton.

Examples of cratons are the Slave craton in Canada, the Wyoming craton in the United States, the Amazonia craton in South America, the Kaapvaal craton in South Africa, and the Gawler craton in South Australia.

Read more about Craton:  Provinces, Structure, Formation

Other articles related to "craton, cratons":

Birimian - Origins
... by the collision of the Archean Cupixi-Carajas craton in the Southern Guiana shield and the Kenema-Man craton in the Western Africa shield ... formed a crust that collided with and rode over the Man Shield portion of the West African Craton, and was compressed to form the series of folds ...
... Laurentia (North American Craton) is a large continental craton, which forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent ... the ever-growing Laurentia, and together formed the stable Archean craton we see today ... The craton is named after the Laurentian Shield, which in turn is named after the Laurentian Mountains ...
Laurentia - Tectonic Setting
... During much of Mississippian time, the craton was the site of an extensive marine carbonate platform on which mainly limestones and some dolostones and evaporites were deposited ... The craton was covered by shallow, warm, tropical epicontinental or epicratonic sea (meaning literally "on the craton") that had maximum depths of only about 60 metres (200 ft) at the shelf edge ... Sometimes land masses or mountain chains rose up on the distant edges of the craton and then eroded down, shedding their sand across the landscape ...
Geology Of Russia - East European Craton
... These sediments lie on the East European craton, a remnant of Precambrian continental crust composed of magmatic and metamorphic rocks ... The East European craton itself was created between 2.0 and 1.7 billion years ago when the microcontinents of Fennoscandia, Sarmatia and Volgo-Uralia collided ...
Craton - Formation
... The process by which cratons are formed from early rock is called cratonization ... There are at least three hypotheses of how cratons have been formed 1) surface crust was thickened by a rising plume of deep molten material, 2) successive subducting plates of oceanic lithosphere ... Small protocontinents (cratons) formed as crustal rock was melted and remelted by hot spots and recycled in subduction zones ...