19 julio, 2024

Pacific Ocean: geological origin, characteristics, climate, flora and fauna

He Pacific Ocean It is one of the parts of the interconnected system of marine waters of the Earth that covers the largest maritime extension of the planet with 15,000 kilometers of territory. Its extension extends from the Bering Sea to the frozen waters of southern Antarctica.

In addition, there are also traces of the Pacific Ocean encircling the island country of Indonesia all the way to the coastal region of Colombia. Twenty-five thousand islands are located in its waters that unfold along the south of the terrestrial equator; therefore, the Pacific Ocean contains more islands than all the other oceans combined.

There are records that the first European to see this ocean was Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1475 – 1519), a Spanish explorer and nobleman. Balboa was able to discover this ocean after crossing the Isthmus of Panama, which motivated him to take possession of this maritime territory on behalf of the Spanish monarchs in 1513. He named it «the southern sea».

Subsequently, the renowned Portuguese explorer Fernando de Magallanes (1480 – 1521) during his circumnavigation of the Earth financed by the Spanish Crown decided to rename these waters with the name of «Pacific», since during his trip he had no problems with maritime currents, which were kept quiet.

However, this ocean is not always calm as hurricanes, typhoons and even notable volcanic and seismic activity occur with some regularity. All these phenomena affect the islands located in these waters, as well as certain continental coastlines.

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geological origin

The birth of the oceans

According to some scientific theories, most of the water existing on Earth arose from its interior as a consequence of volcanic activity and the rotating force that involves the gravitation of the cosmos.

Arnold Urey, a renowned geologist, establishes that 10% of the water currently on the planet already existed at the origins of the Earth; however, it only extended superficially around the globe.

surge of water

Previously on Earth there was only water vapor, since the temperature of the planet was very high and for this reason the existence of liquid water was impossible. Over the years the atmosphere cooled and reached a temperature of up to 374 °C.

Thanks to this, liquid water began to emerge but in small quantities, so water vapor was still preserved.

After this event the rains began. This brought as a consequence that the water began to accumulate in the basins and in the lowlands; rivers also began to be produced, which descended from the mountains. This event allowed the first oceanic waters to develop.

ocean salinity

Since the origin of the Earth, the atmosphere and the seas have undergone constant modifications. Due to the precipitations, the characteristic chemical compounds that are found both in the waters and on the land began to integrate.

As for seawater, its composition gradually solidified through the accumulation of minerals and salts. In its beginnings, the concentration was lower; however, this was growing thanks to the erosion of the Earth’s crust. Consequently, the strong tides promoted the reduction of the coasts, which became sands or beaches.

The climate also had a notable influence since thanks to it the metallic minerals that we found in the aquatic territories increased. All of these events contributed to the salinity of the oceans, which currently have thirty-five grams of salt in a single liter of water.

Birth of the Pacific Ocean

Currently, the origin of the Pacific Ocean continues to be one of the great unknowns in the field of geology. However, one of the most used theories affirms that its birth occurred due to the convergence of some plates, which allowed an intersection.

According to this argument, a lava solidified in this hole that established the most extensive oceanic foundations in the world.

However, there is no evidence that this phenomenon has developed in other regions, so it is difficult to prove this theory.

At the University of Utretch, located in the Netherlands, a group of students proposed that the birth of the Pacific Ocean may be due to the fact that when a new plate emerges, it is produced by the meeting of two others at a fault.

In these cases the plate moves along its sides, producing an unstable situation from which an intersection or hole emerges.

Douwe Van Hinsbergen, who supervised this study, gave the example of the San Andreas fault: this process generates a rapprochement between the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles, which each year get up to 5 centimeters closer.

On the other hand, Dr. Lydian Boschman considered studies carried out in 1980 and realized that scientists had believed that the three oceanic ridges had formed the intersection; however, what actually happened is that this hole was produced in existing plates and not through a separate plate, as is the case with the Pacific Ocean.

Characteristics

The most outstanding characteristics of the Pacific Ocean are the following:

Location

The Pacific Ocean is a large mass of salt water that stretches from the Antarctic region —specifically in the southern part— to the north of the Arctic. Likewise, its waters extend to the west of Australia and Asia: they reach the south and north of the American continent on the east side.

Pacific waters feed the Bering Sea in Alaska and the Ross Sea, located in Antarctica. Similarly, this ocean is connected to the currents of the Atlantic Ocean thanks to the Bering Strait and the Magellan Strait, passing through the Drake Passage.

In conclusion, the limits of the Pacific Ocean are to the west with Oceania and Asia and to the east with America.

Dimensions

The dimensions of the Pacific Ocean correspond to a surface area of ​​161.8 million square kilometers, with a depth ranging from 4,280 meters to 10,924 meters.

This last figure is due to the fact that the Challenger Abyss, belonging to the Mariana Trench, is located within the Pacific Ocean.

Regarding the coordinates, they indicate that the Pacific Ocean resides at 0° N to 160° W. For this reason, it can be affirmed that this ocean extends through the continents of Oceania, Asia and America.

In relation to its volume, it reaches 714,839,310 square kilometers, which allows it to store a rich biodiversity in its ecosystem. In addition, important tourist islands such as Tahiti, Bora Bora, Guadalcanal Island, Yap, Upolu and Rarotonga, among others, are located in its waters.

Surface

As mentioned in previous paragraphs, the surface of the Pacific Ocean is 161.8 million square kilometers, which makes this ocean the largest of the four oceanic manifestations.

For example, the smaller brother of the Pacific Ocean is the Atlantic, which has about 106.5 million square kilometers; For its part, the Indian Ocean has about 70.56 million, while the Antarctic Ocean is the smallest of the four, since it only has a surface area of ​​20.33 million.

Geography

Landforms of the Pacific Ocean

In the Pacific Ocean there is a series of geographical accidents that include different terrestrial and aquatic phenomena, such as archipelagos and islands, capes, some straits, trenches, gulfs and bays. It can even be said that the Pacific Ocean has several active volcanoes.

islands

The Mariana Islands

As for its islands and archipelagos, one of the most important island groups located in this ocean are the Mariana Islands, since they are a notable tourist attraction for travelers and explorers from all over the world.

This island group is made up of fifteen volcanic mountains and is located in a submerged mountain range that stretches from Guam to Japan for 2,519 kilometers.

The name of these islands is due to the queen of Spain consort Mariana of Austria. She lived in the 17th century, when the Spanish colonization arrived in these distant lands.

clipperton island

The Pacific Ocean also has a group of uninhabited islands, such as Clipperton Island, also known as Passion Island. Its surface is small, since it only has about 6 square kilometers and a coastline of 11 kilometers.

At present this island is a possession of France despite the fact that it is located closer to Michoacán, state of Mexico.

Thanks to the annular shape of this coral atoll, the lagoon of this island is closed because its waters are acidic and stagnant.

Although the island was inhabited in the past by settlers, military personnel and fishermen, it has not had permanent inhabitants since 1945.

straits

the strait of georgia

This is a sea strait that separates Vancouver Island from the mainland. Its shores and waters belong to Canada; however, the southern part is from the United States.

The islands of the gulf are located in this strait together with the city of Vancouver, which houses the main port of this place.

Balabac Strait

It consists of a strait that interconnects the South China Sea with the Sulu Sea. In the north is the Philippine island of Balábac, which is part of the province of Palawan, along with the Malaysian island of Banggi, which is located in the south.

volcanoes

Axial

It is also known by the name of Coaxial and consists of a volcano and seamount that is located on the Juan de Fuca ridge, near the west of Cannon Beach in the United States. Axial is the youngest volcano within the Cobb-Eickelberg submarine mountain range.

This volcano is complex in terms of its geological constitution; In addition, its exact origin is unknown.

Ofu and Olosega

These volcanoes are part of a volcanic doublet located in the Samoan Islands, specifically in American Samoa. Geographically, Ofu and Olosega are volcanic islands that are separated by the Asaga Strait, which is considered to be a natural bridge made up of a coral reef.

In 1970 tourists had to splash around the volcanic doublets when the tide was low; At present there is a bridge that connects the villas on the island of Olosega with those of Ofu.

geology

Structural features and geological formation

As mentioned above, this ocean is the oldest and most extensive ocean basin of all. Taking into account the structure of its rocks, it can be established that they date back about 200 million years.

The most important structural features of both the continental slope and the basin have been configured thanks to the phenomena that occur in the tectonic plates.

Its coastal platform is quite narrow in the South American and North American regions; however, it is quite wide in Australia and Asia.

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