DMPQ: What is continental shelf? Mention the significance of Continent shelf( Geography)

The continental shelf is the extended margin of each continent occupied byrelatively shallow seas and gulfs. It is the shallowest part of the ocean showing anaverage gradient of 1° or even less.The width of the continental shelves vary from one ocean to another. The average widthof continental shelves is about 80 km.

Significance of Continental shelf:

  • Massive sedimentary deposits received over a long time by the continentshelves, become the source of fossil fuels.
  • Their shallowness enables sunlight to penetrate through the water, which encouragesthe growth of plants and organism → now rich in plankton → fishes thrive on them –so continental shelves are richest fishing grounds.Eg. Grand Banks of Newfoundland, The North sea and the sunda shelf.
  • Their limited depth and gentle slope keep out cold under-currents and increase the

height of tide. This sometimes hinders shipping and other marine activities since ships

can only enter and leave port on the tide.

 

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