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The Ocean When we think of Earth we think of the land the mountains the trees and many other things that exist on land In reality when we think of Earth we should think of the world ocean The world ocean covers three-fourths of the Earths surface The major goals of studying the ocean known as oceanography are to understand the geologic and chemical processes involved in the evolution and alteration of the ocean and its basin Also the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere is studied so there will be a greater knowledge of the climate and its variations The world ocean covers 71 percent of the Earths surface or about 361 million sq km The average depth of the ocean is 5000 m and its total volume is about 1347000000 cu km The world ocean is divided into four oceans the Atlantic Ocean the Pacific Ocean the Indian Ocean and the Arctic Ocean From the shorelines of the continents a submerged portion of the continent called the continental shelf extends into the ocean at an average distance of 75 km The shelf then drastically drops off at a depth of about 200 m to a much steeper zone known as the continental slope The continental slope then extends into the ocean at a depth of about 3500 m At the base of the continental slope is the continental rise The continental rise is a gradually sloping zone of sediment that is considered part of the ocean bottom The continental rise is formed by sediment that moves along the slope and is abruptly stopped due to the flat ocean floor After the continental slope the ocean extends into the abyssal plains The abyssal plains average between 4500 m and 6000 m deep They are formed by fine particles of sediment that slowly drift down the slope and over millions of years build up to create thick sedimentary deposits
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