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continental shelves

Continental Shelf
Image: National Geographic/NOAA

Continental Shelf

Did you know a continent stretches past its coastline? This gently sloping, underwater landmass is the continental shelf. The relatively shallow, sunny, and nutrient-rich waters above the shelf are alive with all the ocean’s plants and many sea creatures.

Discover how the continental shelves were formed — and what treasures lie within.

National Geographic
Continental Shelves

Continental Shelves

Because of lots of sunlight and nutrient-rich sediment, the shallow waters of continental shelves are home to many aquatic plants and animals. Get more facts here. More...

Article
MarineBio.org
Exploring Ocean Life with an Underwater Vehicle

Exploring Ocean Life with an Underwater Vehicle

How do ocean processes affect marine life? Researchers use a REMUS vehicle to explore the Atlantic shelfbreak, the boundary between the continental shelf and continental slope. More...

Video
Ocean Portal
Extended Continental Shelf Project 2010

Extended Continental Shelf Project 2010

Scientists take 2 icebreakers to the Arctic Ocean to define the limits of the extended continental shelf. Click on the slideshow to see photos from their 5-week expedition. More...

Images
Ocean Explorer
Who Owns the Arctic Ocean?

Who Owns the Arctic Ocean?

Experts believe a treasure trove of energy and mineral resources lies beneath the Arctic Ocean, but who can claim it? It all depends on each nation’s continental shelf. More...

Article
Geology.com
Continental Shelf

Continental Shelf

Continental shelves take up only about 7% of the ocean floor. Learn how this gently sloping landmass was formed and where the widest and narrowest shelves are. More...

Article
Science Encyclopedia
Oil Drilling on the Arctic Ocean’s Outer Continental Shelf

Oil Drilling on the Arctic Ocean’s Outer Continental Shelf

Is there a safe way to drill for oil on Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf? Find out why environmentalists are concerned about the impact of offshore drilling on marine life. More...

Article
Scientific American
Polar Research: Trouble Bares Its Claws

Polar Research: Trouble Bares Its Claws

Warmer waters, possibly caused by climate change, have brought crabs to Antarctica’s continental shelf. Will these natural invaders wipe out many species and upset this delicate ecosystem? More...

Article
Nature
Why Are Waves on the U.S. West Coast Larger than on the East Coast?

Why Are Waves on the U.S. West Coast Larger than on the East Coast?

The continental shelf is one of the primary factors that determine a wave's height. Explore it and the other two factors. More...

Article
HowStuffWorks

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