continental slope

Physical Geog.
a steep slope separating a continental shelf and a deep ocean basin.
[1905-10]

* * *

Seaward border of a continental shelf.

The world's combined continental slope is about 200,000 mi (300,000 km) long and descends at an average angle of about 4° from the edge of the continental shelf to the beginning of the ocean basins at depths of 330–10,500 ft (100–3,200 m). The slope is most gradual off stable coasts without major rivers and is steepest off coasts with young mountain ranges and narrow continental shelves. Slopes off mountainous coastlines and narrow shelves commonly have outcrops of rock. The dominant sediments of continental slopes are muds; there are smaller amounts of sediments of sand or gravel.

* * *

      seaward border of the continental shelf. The world's combined continental slope has a total length of approximately 300,000 km (200,000 miles) and descends at an average angle in excess of 4° from the shelf break at the edge of the continental shelf to the beginning of the ocean basins at depths of 100 to 3,200 m (330 to 10,500 feet).

      A brief treatment of continental slopes follows. For full treatment, see ocean: Continental slope and rise (ocean).

      The gradient of the slope is lowest off stable coasts without major rivers and highest off coasts with young mountain ranges and narrow continental shelves. Most Pacific slopes are steeper than Atlantic slopes; gradients are flattest in the Indian Ocean. About one-half of all continental slopes descend into deep-sea trenches or shallower depressions; most of the remainder terminate in fans of sediment or continental rises. The transition from continental crust to oceanic crust usually occurs below the continental slope.

      Continental slopes are indented by numerous submarine canyons and mounds. The Blake Plateau off the southeastern United States and the continental borderland off southern California are examples of continental slopes separated from continental shelves by plateaus of intermediate depth. Slopes off mountainous coastlines and narrow shelves often have outcrops of rock. The predominant sediments of continental slopes are muds; there are smaller amounts of sediments of sand or gravel.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • continental slope — noun the steep descent of the seabed from the continental shelf to the abyssal zone • Syn: ↑bathyal zone, ↑bathyal district • Hypernyms: ↑ocean floor, ↑sea floor, ↑ocean bottom, ↑seabed, ↑sea …   Useful english dictionary

  • continental slope — noun Date: 1900 the comparatively steep slope from a continental shelf to the ocean floor …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • continental slope — /ˌkɒntənɛntəl ˈsloʊp/ (say .kontuhnentuhl slohp) noun Geology the marked slope running from the edge of the continental shelf to the ocean floor …   Australian English dictionary

  • continental slope — the steeply sloping sea bottom from 200 to 2000 metres (or 100 300 m to 1400 3200 m) and 3 6°C. Average angle of slope is 4° with a maximum about 20° near the upper margin …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • continental slope — Region of the outer edge of a continent between the generally shallow continental shelf and the deep ocean floor, usually demarcated by the 200 m isobath …   Fisheries — dictionary

  • continental slope — noun The steep, narrow fringe separating the coastal zone from the deep ocean …   Wiktionary

  • continental shelf — n. a submerged shelf of land that begins at a continental shoreline, slopes downward gradually at an angle of about 0.1° for a variable distance, and ends at the top of a much steeper downward slope (continental slope) at an angle of about 3° to… …   English World dictionary

  • continental — 1818 as a purely geographical term, from CONTINENT (Cf. continent) + AL (Cf. al) (1). In reference to the European mainland (as opposed to Great Britain), recorded from 1760. Continental breakfast (the kind eaten on the continent as opposed to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Continental shelf — Marine habitats Anatomy of a continental shelf off the south eastern coast of the United States Littoral zone Intertidal zone …   Wikipedia

  • Continental margin —   Sediment   …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.