The continental margins of the world constitute the most impressive and largest physiographic feature of the earth's surface, and one of fundamentally great geological significance. Continental margins have been the subject of increasing attention in recent years, an interest focused by a body of new data that has provided new insights into their character. This interest was further stimulated by the realization that, in addition to the abundant living resources, continental margins contain petroleum and mineral resources that are accessible with existing technology. This realization, along with their basic geological importance, has provoked further research into the nature of continental margins throughout the world. A summary of these findings, as related to both recent and ancient continental margins, is the subject of this book. At various times in the past we had been approached individually to prepare a basic reference to continental margins; we then proposed to do such a volume jointly. However, the stimulus for the present volume eventually arose from a Penrose Conference arranged through the Geological Society of America. This conference was attended by specialists of numerous disciplines and from throughout the world, many of whom insisted that such a volume would be both timely and useful. Consequently, we agreed to undertake the task of assembling this book, with the objectives of making it available as soon and as inexpensively as possible.