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THE OCEAN FLOOR
Transcript of THE OCEAN FLOOR
is the largest and has the greatest depth. The Atlantic Ocean
is about half the size of the Pacific and not quite as deep. The Indian Ocean,
largely a southern hemisphere body, is slightly smaller than the Atlantic. The Arctic Ocean
is about 7 percent of the size of the Pacific. Mapping the Ocean Floor The topography of the ocean floor is as diverse as that of the continents. Bathymetry is the measurement of ocean depths and the charting of the shape or topography of the ocean floor. Today’s technology—
particularly sonar, satellites, and submersibles—
allows scientists to study the ocean floor in a more efficient and precise manner than ever before. THE TOPOGRAPHY OF THE OCEAN Mapping the Ocean Floor SONAR an acronym for sound navigation and ranging. It is also referred to as echo sounding. Sonar works by transmitting sound waves toward the ocean bottom. Sonar Methods SATELLITE able to measure small differences by bouncing microwaves off the ocean surface. Using this new technology, scientists have discovered that the ocean surface is not perfectly flat. Differences in the height of the ocean surface are caused by ocean-floor features. Satellite Methods SUBMERSIBLES small underwater crafts used for deep-sea research. Today, many submersibles are unmanned and operated remotely by computers. These remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) can remain underwater for long periods. OCEAN FLOOR FEATURES Continental Margins the zone of transition between a continent and the adjacent ocean basin floor. In the Atlantic Ocean, thick layers of undisturbed sediment cover the continental margin. This region has very little volcanic or earthquake activity. In the Pacific Ocean, oceanic crust plunges beneath continental crust. This force results in a narrow continental margin that experiences both volcanic activity and earthquakes. Continental Shelf A continental shelf is the gently sloping submerged surface extending from the shoreline. Continental shelves contain important mineral deposits, large reservoirs of oil and natural gas, and huge sand and gravel deposits. Continental Slope the steep gradient that leads to the deep-ocean floor and marks the seaward edge of the continental shelf. A submarine canyon is the seaward extension of a valley that was cut on the continental shelf during a time when sea level was lower—a canyon carved into the outer continental shelf, slope, and rise by turbidity currents. A turbidity current is the downslope movement of dense, sediment-laden water created when sand and mud on the continental shelf and slope are dislodged and thrown into suspension. Continental Rise the gently sloping surface at the base of the continental slope. Ocean Basin Floor the area of the deep-ocean floor between the continental margin and the oceanic ridge. Deep-Ocean Trenches Trenches form at the sites of plate convergence where one moving plate descends beneath another and plunges back into the mantle. Abyssal Plains a very level area of the deep-ocean floor, usually lying at the foot of the continental rise. The sediments that make up abyssal plains are carried there by turbidity currents or are deposited as suspended sediment settles out Seamounts and Guyots an isolated volcanic peak that rises at least 1000 meters above the deep-ocean floor, and a guyot is an eroded, submerged seamount. Mid-Ocean Ridges is found near the center of most ocean basins. It is an interconnected system of underwater mountains that have developed on newly formed ocean crust New ocean floor is formed at mid-ocean ridges as magma rises between the diverging plates and cools. Hydrothermal vents form along mid-ocean ridges. These are zones where mineral-rich water, heated by the hot, newly-formed oceanic crust, escapes through cracks in the oceanic crust into surrounding water. Seafloor spreading is the process by which plate tectonics produces new oceanic lithosphere at ocean ridges. Seafloor Sediments Ocean-floor sediments can be classified according to their origin into three broad categories: terrigenous sediment, biogenous sediment, and hydrogenous sediment. Terrigenous sediments consist primarily of mineral grains that were eroded from continental rocks and transported to the ocean. Biogenous Sediment consist of shells and skeletons of marine animals and algae. Calcareous ooze is thick, common biogenous sediment produced by dissolving calcium carbonate shells. Siliceous ooze is biogenous sediment composed of silica-based shells of single-celled animals and algae. Hydrogenous sediment consists of minerals that crystallize directly from ocean water through various chemical reactions. Biogenous Sediments Resources from the Seafloor Energy Resources Oil and natural gas are the main energy products currently being obtained from the ocean floor. Gas Hydrates Gas hydrates are compact chemical structures made of water and natural gas. Most oceanic gas hydrates are created when bacteria break down organic matter in ocean-floor sediments. Gas Hydrates Other Resources Other major resources from the ocean floor include sand and gravel, evaporative salts, and manganese nodules Sand and Gravel The offshore sand-and-gravel industry is second in economic value only to the petroleum industry Manganese nodules are hard lumps of manganese and other metals (like cobalt, copper, and iron) that precipitate around a small object. Manganese Nodules Evaporative Salts When seawater evaporates, the salt increases in concentration until it can no longer remain dissolved. When the concentration becomes high enough, the salts precipitate out of solution and form salt deposits. The most economically important salt is halite—common table salt. Manganese Nodules The World Ocean Submarine Canyons Abyssal Plain Cross Section