We discuss the structure of the continental lithosphere, its physical properties, and the mechanisms that formed and modified it since the early Archean. The structure of the upper mantle and the crust is derived primarily from global and regional seismic tomography studies of Eurasia and from global and regional data on seismic anisotropy. These data as documented in the papers of this special issue of Tectonophysics are used to illustrate the role of different tectonic processes in the lithospheric evolution since Archean to present. These include, but are not limited to, cratonization, terrane accretion and collision, continental rifting (both passive and active), subduction, and lithospheric basal erosion due to a relative motion of cratonic keels and the convective mantle. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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Processes of lithosphere evolution: New evidence on the structure of the continental crust and uppermost mantle