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17 Geological Characteristics of the Ocean

by Ranisa Alda

As people might know, the ocean covers over 71 percent of the entire Earth’s surface. It is estimated that around 80 percent from the total of Earth’s population lives within 60 miles from the ocean coast. Not only that, the ocean also contains over 97 percent of Earth’s water. Those two reasons alone are enough to make our Earth called as “the blue planet”. If the Earth’s water in the ocean were to be measured, it has enough water to fill a cube with over 1000 km edges.

With how wide our ocean is, we could tell there are so many creatures made it as their own habitat. Although up to 2008 there were around 230,000 marine life forms have been recorded, some research found and estimated that there are as many as millions of marine life forms that have yet to be discovered. This happens due to many reasons.

How the marine life forms can be as small as a zooplankton that needs us to use a microscope to see it, and how deep the ocean can go while the light can only travel only as deep as 1,000 meters or 3,280 feet under the sea level. Both the wide range of our Earth’s ocean and how many marine life forms are living in it are also results from the geological characteristics of the ocean.

The ocean of our Earth has very unique characteristics and here we are about to find out 17 of them.

1. Earth’s Longest Mountain Range

The longest mountain range on Earth is located under the water and that is the Mid-Oceanic Ridge. One of the characteristics of an ocean ridge is that it goes through the middle of the Atlantic ocean, right to the Pacific and Indian ocean. The under-water mountain has peaks that are higher than even the Alpine’s peaks. The size of the chain of mountains is 35,000 miles long and it comprises about 23 percent of the Earth’s total surface. If the length of all the ridge were to be combined, it would be as much as going twice around the world.

2. Kelp Forests

Kelp can grow up to two feet per day, therefore they can grow on the ocean floor that is a hundred fifty feet deep and even reach the surface of the water. That’s why there are so-called “kelp forests” in the ocean due to this fact. The forests can be so dense they can even rival with the lushest forests on the land.

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3. Earth’s Deepest Place

Like the longest mountain range in the world, the deepest place in the world is also located under the water. The place is called the Mariana Trench that lies beneath the Pacific ocean, the depth of the trench is estimated to reach 35,797 feet deep.

4. The Gulf Stream

There is a warm yet powerful current that flows in the Atlantic ocean called the Gulf Stream. It flows right from the tip of Florida to the United States’ coast and over to the Europe. This powerful and warm current has a big impact on the eastern United States’ and western Europe’s climate.

5. Ocean’s Weight

The ocean contributes about 0.22 percent of the total weight of the Earth. The estimated weight of the ocean is up to 1,450,000,000,000,000,000 short tons with 1 short ton equals to 2,000 lbs.

6. The Highest Tides in the World

The Bay of Fundy which separates New Brunswick from Nova Scotia is the highest tides in the world. The difference between high and low tide from this place can even reach 53 feet 6 inches at some times of the year and the same height is equivalent to five stories building. See also Characteristics of Ocean Gyres

7. Earth’s Smallest Ocean

One of the unique characteristics of Arctic Ocean is that it is the smallest ocean in the world with the size that is 10 times smaller than the total size of the Pacific ocean. 

8. Home to Earth’s Largest Living Structure

The ocean is a home to the Earth’s largest living structure that it can even be seen from the moon, it is the Great Barrier Reef. Located in the northeastern part of Australia, off the coast of Queensland. Estimated size of the reef is to reach 2,600 km.

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9. Water Pressure

The deepest point of the ocean has a water pressure that is more than 8 tons per square inch. The pressure is equivalent to one person trying to hold 50 jumbo jets all at once. That is why even the grand Titanic ship would crash just like a Coke can because of the water pressure.

See also: Hydrodynamic Characteristics of Ocean

10. Sounds from the Ocean

The depths of the ocean have repeatedly produced some sounds that are still unexplainable by the scientists up until now. The most famous one would be “The Bloop” that is captured with the hydrophones set out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997.

11. Brine Pools

There are lakes and rivers under the water, also called as brine pools. They are formed when seawater seeps through the thick layers of salt, the salt then gets dissolves and forms depressions in the seafloor. Just like their land-based counterparts, the brine pools also have shorelines and even waves.

12. Underwater Waterfalls

Not only there are lakes and rivers, the underwater world also has waterfalls. The largest underwater waterfall would be the one located in between Greenland and Iceland.

The waterfall is formed due to the different temperature between the water. For example, there is a difference in the water temperature of Denmark Strait cataract where the water from the East is colder and denser meets the water from the West which is lighter and warmer. The different texture and temperature then makes the cold water flows down, underneath the warm one.

13. Unique Sides of the Ocean

Besides all of the characteristics above, there are still other unique geological characteristics of the ocean. For example, how the ocean contains some of unusual geographical features like chimneys that shoots up sulphuric acid, pillars that reach several stories high, to underwater volcanoes that doesn’t spew out lava unlike on-land mountains but mud and methane instead.


  • Average Depth: The average depth of the ocean is 3,700 meters or about 12,100 feet deep.
  • Sea Ice: The sea ice covered 7 percent of our ocean.
  • Light Absorbance: The ocean’s water absorbs the red light out of the color spectrum and that’s why it leaves us to see the “blue ocean”. See also Characteristics of the Sunlit Zone in the Ocean
  • Ocean’s Heat: At the 2,5 meters or 8 feet depth of the ocean holds as much heat as the total Earth atmosphere

The Earth ocean is, as stated before above, is really wide. Therefore, many part of it is still haven’t even discovered yet. But even with that being said, there are already so many unique geological characteristics of the ocean that we can learn first. The 17 ones that have been explained above are only a little part of it. Non the less, we hope that the characteristics of the ocean that we have served here will be found helpful to you.

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