marine geology
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Marine geology or geological oceanography is the study of the history and structure of the ocean floor. It involves
geophysical Geophysics () is a subject of natural science concerned with the physical processes and Physical property, physical properties of the Earth and its surrounding space environment, and the use of quantitative methods for their analysis. The term ' ...
,
geochemical Geochemistry is the science that uses the tools and principles of chemistry to explain the mechanisms behind major geological systems such as the Earth's crust and its oceans. The realm of geochemistry extends beyond the Earth, encompassing the en ...
, sedimentological and
paleontological Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch. It began approximate ...
investigations of the
ocean floor The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
ocean floor
and
coastal zone The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the sea or ocean, or as a line that forms the boundary between the land and the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body ...
. Marine geology has strong ties to
geophysics Geophysics () is a subject of concerned with the physical processes and of the and its surrounding space environment, and the use of quantitative methods for their analysis. The term ''geophysics'' sometimes refers only to solid earth applic ...

geophysics
and to
physical oceanography Physical oceanography is the study of physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), ...
. Marine geological studies were of extreme importance in providing the critical evidence for
sea floor spreading Seafloor spreading is a process that occurs at mid-ocean ridges, where new oceanic crust is formed through volcanic activity and then gradually moves away from the ridge. History of study Earlier theories by Alfred Wegener and Alexander du ...
and
plate tectonics upright=1.35, Diagram of the internal layering of Earth showing the lithosphere above the asthenosphere (not to scale) Plate tectonics (from the la, label=Late Latin Late Latin ( la, Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the written L ...
in the years following World War II. The deep ocean floor is the last essentially unexplored frontier and detailed mapping in support of both military (submarine) objectives and economic (
petroleum Petroleum, also known as crude oil and oil, is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) unde ...

petroleum
and
metal A metal (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mi ...

metal
mining Mining is the extraction of valuable mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occu ...

mining
) objectives drives the research.


Overview

The
Ring of Fire The Ring of Fire (also known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Rim of Fire, the Girdle of Fire or the Circum-Pacific belt) is a region around much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many Types of volcanic eruptions, volcanic eruptions and e ...

Ring of Fire
around the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. T ...

Pacific Ocean
with its attendant intense
volcanism Volcanism (or volcanicity) is the phenomenon of eruption of molten rock (magma) onto the Earth#Surface, surface of the Earth or a solid-surface planet or moon, where lava, pyroclastics and volcanic gases erupt through a break in the surface called ...
and
seismic Seismology (; from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following perio ...

seismic
activity poses a major threat for disastrous
earthquake An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known t ...

earthquake
s,
tsunami A tsunami ( ; from ja, 津波, lit=harbour wave, ) is a series of waves in a water body caused by the displacement of a large volume of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake. Earthquake An earthquake (also known as a quake, tre ...

tsunami
s and volcanic eruptions. Any ''early warning'' systems for these disastrous events will require a more detailed understanding of marine geology of coastal and
island arc Island arcs are long chains of active volcano A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object A planet is an astronomical body orbit In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved trajectory of an physical bod ...

island arc
environments. The study of
littoral The littoral zone or nearshore is the part of a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface o ...

littoral
and deep sea sedimentation and the precipitation and dissolution rates of
calcium carbonate Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held together ...

calcium carbonate
in various marine environments has important implications for global
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known event ...
. The discovery and continued study of mid-ocean rift zone volcanism and
hydrothermal vent A hydrothermal vent is a fissure A fissure is a long, narrow crack opening along the surface of the Earth. It is derived from the Latin word , which means 'cleft' or 'crack'. Fissures emerge in the Earth's crust, on ice sheets and glaciers, and ...
s, first in the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
and later along the
East Pacific Rise , alt= The East Pacific Rise is a mid-oceanic ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary located along the floor of the Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Oce ...

East Pacific Rise
and the
Mid-Atlantic Ridge The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a (a or constructive ) located along the floor of the , and part of the . In the North Atlantic, the ridge separates the from the and the , north and south of the respectively. In the South Atlantic, it separates the ...
systems were and continue to be important areas of marine geological research. The
extremophile An extremophile (from Latin ' meaning "extreme" and Greek ' () meaning "love") is an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the ...
organisms discovered living within and adjacent to those hydrothermal systems have had a pronounced impact on our understanding of life on Earth and potentially the
origin of life In evolutionary biology, abiogenesis, or informally the origin of life (OoL),Compare: is the natural process by which life has arisen from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. While the details of this process are still unkn ...
within such an environment.
Oceanic trench , while the lithosphere is subducted back into the asthenosphere at trenches Oceanic trenches are prominent long, narrow topography, topographic depressions of the ocean floor. They are typically wide and below the level of the surrounding ocean ...
es are hemispheric-scale long but narrow topographic depressions of the sea floor. They also are the deepest parts of the ocean floor. The
Mariana Trench The Mariana Trench or Marianas Trench is located in the western Pacific Ocean about east of the Mariana Islands; it is the deep sea, deepest oceanic trench on Earth. It is crescent-shaped and measures about in length and in width. The maxim ...
(or Marianas Trench) is the deepest known submarine trench, and the deepest location in the Earth's crust itself. It is a
subduction zone Subduction is a geological process in which the oceanic lithosphere is recycled into the Earth's mantle at convergent boundaries. Where the oceanic lithosphere of a tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. Tec ...
where the
Pacific Plate The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant th ...
is being subducted under the Mariana Plate. The bottom of the trench is further below sea level than
Mount Everest Mount Everest (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's m ...

Mount Everest
is above sea level.


See also

*
Bathymetric chart A bathymetric chart is a type of isarithmic map that depicts the submerged topography and physiographic features of ocean and sea bottoms. Their primary purpose is to provide detailed depth contours of ocean topography as well as provide the size, s ...
* Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain *
Hydrogeology Hydrogeology (''hydro-'' meaning water, and ''-geology'' meaning the study of the ) is the area of that deals with the distribution and movement of in the and of the Earth's (commonly in s). The terms groundwater hydrology, geohyd ...
* List of geologists *
Pelagic sediments Pelagic sediment or pelagite is a fine-grained sediment Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently sediment transport, transported by the action of wind, water, or ic ...
*
Seafloor mapping Seafloor mapping, also called seabed imaging, is the measurement of water depth of a given body of water. Bathymetry, Bathymetric measurements are conducted with various methods, from sonar and Lidar techniques to Buoy, buoys and satellite altime ...


References

* Erickson, Jon, 1996, ''Marine Geology: Undersea Landforms and Life Forms'', Facts on File * Seibold, E. and W.H. Berger, 1994, ''The Sea Floor: An Introduction to Marine Geology'', Springer-Verlag


External links


''Soundwaves'' Coastal Science & Research News from Across the USGS



Pacific Seafloor Mapping Project - USGS

Marine Geology and Geophysics at MIT

Ocean Drilling Program
{{Authority control Marine geology, Oceanography Subfields of geology