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[krey-ton] /ˈkreɪ tɒn/
noun, Geology
a relatively rigid and immobile region of continental portions of the earth's crust.
Also called continental shield.
1940-45; < German Kraton, based on Greek krátos power; cf. -cracy, -on2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for craton
  • Perhaps it's related to areas of the continent that aren't underlain by ancient core rocks of the continental craton.
  • These sedimentary rocks that commonly lie closer to the margins of continents are the craton.
  • Tectonic juxtaposition of two or more terranes, or tectonic juxtaposition of terranes to a craton margin.
  • They gradually deteriorate to become part of the low-lying craton itself.
  • These changes all occur within a relatively short traverse from craton to basin.
British Dictionary definitions for craton


(geology) a stable part of the earth's continental crust or lithosphere that has not been deformed significantly for many millions, even hundreds of millions, of years See shield (sense 7)
Derived Forms
cratonic (krəˈtɒnɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C20: from Greek kratos strength
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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craton in Science
A large portion of a continental plate that has been relatively undisturbed since the Precambrian era and includes both shield and platform layers.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for craton

the stable interior portion of a continent characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock. The term craton is used to distinguish such regions from mobile geosynclinal troughs, which are linear belts of sediment accumulations subject to subsidence (i.e., downwarping). The extensive central cratons of continents may consist of both shields and platforms. A shield is that part of a craton in which (usually) Precambrian basement rocks crop out extensively at the surface. By contrast, in a platform the basement is overlain by horizontal or subhorizontal sediments.

Learn more about craton with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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