How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

44 terms

Oceanography Terms

Terms you will need to know for the Oceanography test.
STUDY
PLAY
Intertidal
The shallow zone of the ocean where land meets water, which is alternately covered or exposed by the tied
Sublittoral
Benthic zone from the low-tide line to the seaward edge of the continental shelf; the subtidal zone.
Bathyal
Pertaining to ocean depths between approximately 1000 and 4000 meters.
Abyssal
benthic environment between 4000 m and 6000 m depth
Hadal
of or pertaining to the greatest ocean depths, below approximately 20,000 ft.
Plankton
the aggregate of small plant and animal organisms that float or drift in great numbers in fresh or salt water
Nekton
the aggregate of actively swimming animals in a body of water ranging from microscopic organisms to whales
Benthos
organisms (plants and animals) that live at or near the bottom of a sea
Abyssal Hill
A hill on the slope of a mid-ocean ridge about 100m high and lineated parallel to the ridge crest, formed by faulting of the basaltic oceanic crust as it moves out of the rift valley
Abyssal Plain
very level area of the deep-ocean floor, usually lying at the foot of the continental rise
Mid-Ocean Ridge
an undersea mountain chain where new ocean floor is produced; a divergent plate boundary
Rift Valley
A deep valley that forms where two plates move apart.
Ocean Trench
A steep, long depression in the deep-sea floor that runs parallel to a chain of volcanic islands or a continental margin
Continental Slope
the steep gradient that leads to the deep-ocean floor and marks the seaward edge of the continental shelf
Continental Shelf
a gently sloping, shallow area of the ocean floor that extends outward from the edge of a continent
Continental Rise
the gently sloping section of the continental margin located between the continental slope and the abyssal plain
Guyot
A large, flat-topped seamount resulting from erosion of an island volcano when it was above sea level.
Seamount
a huge, underwater volcanic mountain that may emerge from the ocean surface as an island
Atoll
an island consisting of a circular coral reef surrounding a lagoon
Sea Cliff
Steep slope produced when waves erode and undercut rock.
Sea Cave
formed as wave action hollows out the cliff
Sea Arch
Formed when sea caves on either side of a headland join.
Sea Stack
column of rock remaining after the collapse of a sea arch
Wave-Cut Terrace
A level surface formed by wave erosion of coastal bedrock beneath the surf zone. May be visible at low tide.
Wave-Built Terrace
An extension to a wave-cut terrace formed by erosional material deposited offshore
Beach
an area of sand sloping down to the water of a sea or lake
Berm
a narrow ledge or shelf typically at the top or bottom of a slope
Coral Reefs
Prominent oceanic features composed of hard, limy skeletons produced by coral animals; usually formed along edges of shallow, submerged ocean banks or along shelves in warm, shallow, tropical seas
Barrier Island
Low, narrow, sand islands that form offshore from a coastline
Sand Bar
A long underwater ridge formed by sand deposited offshore
Submergent Coastline
A landform formed when sea level rises or when land sinks
Emergent Coastline
Coastline that results from either a drop of sea level or an uplifting of the land
Lagoon
shallow body of water or lake near a sea; lake separated from a sea by sandbars or coral reefs
Spit
a narrow strip of land that juts out into the sea
Tombolo
a ridge of sand that connects an island to the mainland or to another island
Density
mass divided by volume
Temperature
the degree of hotness or coldness of a body or environment (corresponding to its molecular activity)
Thermocline
In water, a distinctive temperature transition zone that separates an upper layer that is mixed by wind (the epilimnion) and a colder, deep layer that is not mixed (the hypolimnion)
Salinity
a measure of the amount of dissolved salts and other solids in a given amount of liquid
Tsunamis
A giant wave caused by an earthquake on the ocean floor
Currents
water that moves in a certain direction; the river like flow of water in the oceans
El Nino
(oceanography) a warm ocean current that flows along the equator from the date line and south off the coast of Ecuador at Christmas time
La Nina
a cooling of the ocean surface off the western coast of South America, occurring periodically every 4 to 12 years and affecting Pacific and other weather patterns.
Sonar
a measuring instrument that sends out an acoustic pulse in water and measures distances in terms of the time for the echo of the pulse to return