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Topic 6 The Seafloor GEOL 2503 Introduction to Oceanography 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Topic 6 The Seafloor GEOL 2503 Introduction to Oceanography 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Topic 6 The Seafloor GEOL 2503 Introduction to Oceanography 1

2 See the video “The Sea Floor” on Learner.org under the Earth Revealed seriesEarth Revealed 2

3 Measuring the Depths Posidonius made first measurements Old methods used weighted ropes or cables—used for 2000 years (refer back to Topic 1) Problems were stretch and drift of ropes and cables Echo sounder developed in 1920s 3

4 Key Vocabulary Sounding—any depth measurement Fathom—old length measure still in use, equal to 6 feet Bathymetry—study and measurement of the sea floor and the variations of water depth; the topography of the sea floor 4

5 Bathymetry of the Sea Floor Just as rugged and complex as the land Erosion is very slow Main areas: –The Continental Margins –The Ocean Basin Floor –The Ridges, Rises, and Trenches 5

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8 Example of an ocean basin: the Atlantic profile 8

9 Example of an ocean basin: the Pacific profile 9

10 Vertical Exaggeration (VE) The distortion of the vertical scale of a topographic profile to emphasize the relief and slope of the land VE = horizontal scale (distance) divided by vertical scale (elevation or depth) 10

11 Vertical Exaggeration Example The horizontal scale is 1:12,000 which means 1 inch equals 12,000 inches, or 1 inch equals 1,000 feet The vertical scale is 1 inch equals 200 feet 1,000 ft  200 ft = 5 VE = 5 11

12 The Continental Margin Edges of the continents Sea-level changes affect margins Main components –Continental shelf –Continental shelf break –Continental slope –Continental rise 12

13 Submarine canyons Coastal plain Continental shelf Continental slope Continental rise Continental crust Continental crust Oceanic crust Mantle Deep-sea fan Abyssal plain Passive Continental Margins 13

14 Continental crust Oceanic crust Mantle Accretionary wedge Offshore trench Continental volcanic belt Active Continental Margins: Convergent 14

15 The bottom diagram is at true scale. What is the vertical exaggeration of the top diagram? 15

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17 Remember this graphic? The bottom diagram is at true scale. What is the vertical exaggeration of the top diagram? 17

18 Marianas Trench 18

19 Sigsbee Deep Deepest spot in the Gulf of Mexico 3787 meters 19

20 Recent sea-level changes have been the right magnitude to have alternately flooded and exposed the continental margins. 20

21 There have been many changes in sea level throughout Earth’s history. Look at this curve for the last 30 million years. The curve on the previous page shows only the last 40 thousand years. You can’t even see that little bit of time on the curve at left. Eustatic refers to a uniform global sea-level change.

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25 Continental Shelf Part of the continents, underlain by granite Covered with shallow water Slope less than one degree Widths average 65 km (40 mi) –Narrower along active margins than passive Water depth varies m ( ft) –Average about 130 m (427 ft) 25

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27 Continental Shelf Break Boundary between shallow shelf and beginning of deep ocean Zone of abrupt change in slope 27

28 Continental Slope Steep slope extending to ocean basin floor Water depth increases from less than 200 m to average of 4,000 m Occurs over very narrow width 28

29 Continental Rise At base of continental slope Accumulation of sediment on seafloor Lessens the steepness of the slope Similar to alluvial fans on land 29

30 Submarine Canyons A dominant feature of continental slopes Steep-sided with V-shaped cross section Many associated with modern river systems on land, probably cut into shelf during lower sea levels Evidence suggests most were formed and/or maintained by turbidity currents 30

31 Submarine canyons are a dominant feature of continental margins 31

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33 Offshore Monterey Bay, California. Note all the submarine canyons. 33

34 Turbidity Currents A fast-moving avalanche of mud, sand, and water Flow down slopes by gravity May travel at 90 kph (56 mph) Erode sea bottom and excavate canyons Caused by earthquakes or overloading of sediments on steep slopes 34

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36 Turbidite Deposit of sediment from a turbidity current As current passes, largest grains settle out first Successively smaller grains settle Called a “graded bed” Have scoured bottoms from erosion by passing current 36

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38 38 Image of a turbidity current moving down the continental slope off California

39 This is how we first learned of the erosive potential in the deep sea 39

40 A sand fall in a submarine canyon off Baja California 40

41 The Ocean Basin Floor Abyssal plain—flattest places on earth Abyssal hill—small undersea volcano Seamount—undersea volcano 1,000+ m Guyot—flat-topped seamount (see plate tectonics) Atoll—circular reef around shallow lagoon (Charles Darwin) 41

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43 Deepest areas are mostly older parts of ocean and abyssal plains 43

44 The Salt Water 44

45 As you go from an oceanic ridge outwards, the lithosphere cools and compacts, causing islands that were once above water to be below the water. 45

46 Volcanic islands weather and erode rapidly in tropical areas. Eventual submergence will lead to formation of an atoll. 46

47 Charles Darwin was the first to realize how atolls are formed As the former volcanic island continues to sink, eventually a guyot will form 47

48 Fringing reef  Barrier reef  Atoll –Caused by sinking of volcanic island as it moves away from oceanic ridge 48

49 Each of these Pacific atolls began as a volcanic island 49

50 Abyssal Plain Seamounts Guyot 50

51 The Ridges, Rises, and Trenches The highs and lows of the seafloor Plate tectonics will explain their origin 51

52 The Mid-Ocean Ridge system is an undersea volcanic mountain chain 52

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54 True scale Trenches are linear features and are the deepest spots on Earth 54

55 The Mariana Trench is the deepest spot on Earth Mariana Trench 55

56 Convergent boundaries are responsible for oceanic trenches 56


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