The geology of continents is to a large degree the geology of continental margins. The margins mark the site where materials that form major components of the continental crust are distilled from Earth's mantle and where continents grow through plate interactions that progressively incorporate these margins into the continental mass.
Much of the continents consists of the remnants of ancient margins that offer an extensive and detailed record of continental evolution over time and space. Knowledge of this record is essential for understanding processes of global change, their diversity, and long-term history. Unraveling this record is one of the major challenges in modern Earth sciences.