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hypsographic curve

plot of area of Earth's surface above any given elevation or depth above or below sea level

continental margins

submerged outer edge of the continent

ocean basins

deep seafloor beyond the continental margin

passive margins

Atlantic-type margins & face the edges of diverging tectonic plates. Very little earthquake/ volcanic activity here.

active margins

known as Pacific- type margins, are located near the edges of converging plates. Site of volcanic/ earthquake activity.

continental shelf

shallow, submerged edge of the continent

continental slopes

transition between continental shelf and the deep-ocean floor, has the steepest slope

shelf break

abrupt transition from continental shelf to continental slope

continental rises

accumulated sediment found at base of continental slope

submarine canyons

cut into continental shelf and slope, often terminating on the deep-sea floor in a fan-shaped wedge of sediment

turbidity current

current propelled by gravity; underwater avalanche of sediments

transform faults

fractures where lithospheric plates slide horizontally past one another. Active part of fracture zones


flat-topped sea mounts eroded by wave action

boundary layer

region of water flow influenced by proximity to surface


biogeneous sediment containing more than 30% of shells of planktonic organisms

well-sorted sediments

composed of single-sized particles, energy fluctuates within a narrow range, deep-sea floor

poorly sorted sediments

mixture of sizes, energy fluctuates over a wide range, near submarine canyon by turbidity current

Autonomous Benthic Explorer

underwater robot, first AUV used by US

TOPEX/Poseidon satellite

measures sea surface topography

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler

used to measure how fast water is moving across water column

Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth Sensors

determine physical properties of water

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