Why is Australia sometimes considered a continent, but Greenland never is? Aren’t they both large islands that could both pass as continents?

176 viewsOtherPlanetary Science

Why is Australia sometimes considered a continent, but Greenland never is? Aren’t they both large islands that could both pass as continents?

In: Planetary Science

7 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Earth is round or close to it, so it isn’t possible to accurately draw it as a 2D map into a rectangle.

That’s why we use projections to draw them.

Mercator projection is good for navigation as it preserves angles, but it distorts sizes. Things closer to the equator are drawn smaller and things closer to poles are made larger.

Australia is much larger than Greenland even if it doesn’t look like it on the map.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Greenland area: 836,000 sq. miles. Not its own tectonic plate.

Australia area: 2,968,000 sq. miles. Its own tectonic plate.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Australia is a continent because it’s a huge landmass that stands alone and has its own unique plants, animals, and geology. Greenland, even though it’s big, is much smaller than Australia. Greenland is also attached to the North American landmass in a way that makes it part of that region, not its own separate continent. So, Australia is a continent because it’s big, separate, and unique, while Greenland is a big island that’s part of a larger area.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There’s a few defining factors of a “continent,” but just to focus on the point raised in this post, Greenland is big, but it is not Australia big. It’s roughly a third of the size of the Australian mainland.

[Size Comparison](https://www.thetruesize.com/#?borders=1~!ODI3Njc1Ng.NDY4MDIyOQ*MzU2NDQ4Mjk(MjcyODIwMzY~!GL*MTQ3NDg0NjY.MTg0NTg3Njc)Mw)

Anonymous 0 Comments

Mercator projection strikes again!
They look to be a similar size on most maps. But they are not.
Australia is almost as large as the U.S.
Greenland is about the size of the eastern side of the U.S. plus a bit of Canada, but not Florida.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Yes Greenland is smaller than Australia…but look at all the folks who want to normalize New Zealand as a submerged continent. It’s pretty small too. The key question is: are their plate boundaries (spreading ridges, transform faults, subduction zones) between Greenland and other plates? I think we have spreading ridges to the east and west of Greenland…really the question is what’s going in north Greenland between it and arctic Canadian islands. It seems like there should be a transform boundary there…in which case it could be argued that it is a separate continent.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Australia isn’t sometimes a continent, it always is. Always a continent, country and island.