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MARINE GEOLOGY. Geology. Study of the development and physical characteristics of our planet’s seafloor and continents and the forces that shape them How did the oceans and continents form?.

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Marine geology



  • Study of the development and physicalcharacteristics of our planet’s seafloor and continents and the forces that shape them

  • How did the oceans and continents form?

Big bang
Big Bang

  • 20 billion years ago

  • Matter (all elements in periodic table) expanded into space

  • Matter clumped and planets formed 5 bya

  • Early on our planet is a hard rock being bombardedby other planetary bodies and experiencing volcanic eruptions

Marine geology

82 percent of meteorite falls are chondrites

Formation of earth s layers
Formation of Earth’s Layers

  • Heating (leftover radioactive heating)

    Denser (Fe and Ni) material sunk to the center

    Lighter (Si and O) material rose to surface

    Some materials vaporized to form early oceans and atmosphere

    2. Layers formed

    3. Planet cools

Our usual image of earth
Our “usual” image of Earth

Evidence for layers from seismic waves
Evidence for layers from Waves

Marine geology

Early atmosphere
Early Atmosphere

  • 3.5 bya

  • Water vapor, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen and cyanide

Early oceans
Early Oceans

  • 4 bya water vapor from mantle is cooled and collects on surface.

  • 1000’s of years of thunderstorms and rain

  • Low lying spots fill to become our early oceans

  • Water also from comets, volcanoes, meteors, geysers, rocks that contain moisture

Origin of the continents
Origin of the Continents

  • Alfred Wegener suggested the continents were not always on their present positions

  • Continental Drift

  • 200mya a single landmass called Pangea broke up

  • Evidence

    • Coastlines fit like a puzzle

    • Similar fossils and rock formations on different continents

Problems with cd
Problems With CD

  • No mechanism for how the continents “drift”

  • Wegener was a meteorologist…what did he know anyway!!!

Marine geology


  • thin outer layer

    • less dense, rocks that floated to the surface when the Earth was formed

    • between 35km and 70km thick.

  • not a continuous layer of rock

    • Split into plates, which are free to drift slowly across the surface of the planet.

Moving plates
Moving Plates

  • Continents move 1 cm/yr

  • Boundary between plates is a fault

    • Seismic activity occurs at faults

  • The lower mantle is heated by the core which creates convection currents

  • Rising magma may break thru the crust at ridges like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Moving plates1
Moving Plates

  • Sea floor spreading- plates move apart from rising magma at a ridge

  • Subduction- two plates collide and the denser plate sinks into the mantle

    • Forms trenches (Marianas Trench)

    • Trenches are the deepest parts of the ocean

Ocean floor formation
Ocean Floor Formation

  • Sea floor spreading is source of new ocean floor

  • Subduction recycles ocean floor back into the mantle

  • Atlantic is growing

  • Pacific is shrinking

Sea floor spreading evidence
Sea Floor Spreading Evidence

  • Younger rocks are found closer to the ridge

  • Less sediment closer to the ridge

  • Polarity of magnetic minerals is mirror image on either side of the ridge

    • N and S pole flip periodically

    • Minerals line up as magma cools with the N pole

Plate tectonics
Plate Tectonics

  • Unifying theory that combines continental drift and sea floor spreading

  • Explains the origin of, connections between earthquakes, volcanoes, faults, continental drift and sea floor spreading

  • Explains how oceans and its features are formed

Why we have oceans why the ocean floor is not flat
Why We Have Oceans & Why The Ocean Floor Is Not Flat

Ocean floor topography
Ocean Floor Topography

  • Average ocean depth is 3636 m

  • Sonar is used to map features of the ocean floor

  • The study of elevations and depressions is topography

Marine geology

  • Oceanic crust is than continental crust sinks lower into the mantle

  • This is why it is filled w/ water and has become an ocean basin.

Marine geology

  • Continental crust

    • less dense (lighter)

    • floats on the mantle

    • 35- 70 km thick

    • 3500 million years old

  • Oceanic Crust

    • 6 Km thick

    • Younger than 200 million years

    • Sinks into mantle

2 Types of Crust

Typical features
Typical Features

  • Continental Shelf-extension of the continent

  • Continental Slope- steep drop off from shelf and end of the continent and it’s crust

  • Submarine Canyons- deep valleys in the slope created by underwater landslides or old rivers

  • Continental Rise- a pile of sediment that has slid down the slope

  • Seamounts and Guyots- Islands created by underwater volcanoes

Plate tectonics and continental coastlines
Plate Tectonics and Continental Coastlines

  • Active margins (California)

    • Sites of tectonicactivity -earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains,

    • Narrow c. shelf and steep slope ending in trench

  • Passive

    • Little to no tectonic activity

    • Wide shelf, pile of sediment at the bottom of the slope

Plate margins
Plate Margins

  • Converging plates

    • O & C- oceanic subducts under continental: trenches, volcanic islands & earthquakes

    • O & O- one plate subducts under the other: trenches, volcanic islands & earthquakes

    • C & C- mountains& earthquakes

Features of ocean ridges
Features of Ocean Ridges

  • Water is superheated (371 C) by hot magma and dissolves minerals from nearby rock

  • As water comes out from the rock it looks like smoke

  • Area with these hot springs is called a hydrothermalvent

Marine geology

Animals from hydrothermal vents
Animals From Hydrothermal Vents

  • Bacteria are the base of the food chain

  • Chemosynthesis- make sugars using energy from compounds like H2S

  • Other vent animals include giant tubeworms, crabs, octopus, shrimp and mussels

Marine geology

Why learn about geology

  • Nature of our planet and its changes

  • Impact on human life

  • Predicting future natural disasters

Distribution of our oceans
Distribution of our Oceans

  • Cover ¾ of our planet

  • Southern hemisphere is 80% ocean while Northern hemisphere is 60% ocean

  • Separate but connected basins

  • Include features like…

  • Most of the ocean bottom is an abyssal plain

Ocean bottom review
Ocean Bottom Review

  • Shelf

  • Slope

  • Rise

  • Ocean basin

Marine geology

  • Continental shelf

  • Narrow shelf

  • Wide shelf

Continental margins
Continental Margins


    • Trench


    • Abyssal plain

Plate tectonics1

  • Outer layer of our planet move and deform

  • Boundary

  • Converging

  • Diverging

  • Transform


  • Continental drift

  • Sea floor spreading

    • Diverge

    • Ridges

  • Subduction

    • Converge

    • Trenches