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The Pacific s is a body of salt water expanding from the Antarctic an ar in the southern to the Arctic in the north and also lying between the continent of Asia and Australia ~ above the west and also North America and South America on the east.

The Pacific ocean stretches native the Bering Strait near the Arctic Circle come the shores the Antarctica v 135° that latitude, part 9,600 mile (15,500 km). The typical depth of the Pacific (excluding surrounding seas) is 14,040 feet (4,280 metres), and its best known depth is 36,201 feet (11,034 metres).

The deep zone the the Pacific Ocean, i m sorry contains around 80 percent that the ocean’s volume, has reasonably stable temperature and also salinity patterns; its median temperature is 38.3 °F (3.5 °C).

The highest surface salinities in the Pacific Ocean take place in the southeastern area, where they reach 37 components per thousand; the lowest salinities—less than around 32 parts—occur in the excessive northern zone the the Pacific. The salinity in the equatorial belt have the right to be together low as 34 parts per thousand.

The Mariana Trench, additionally called the Marianas Trench, is a deep-sea trench in the floor of the western north Pacific Ocean, and it is the deepest together trench recognized on Earth. The is component of the west Pacific mechanism of oceanic trenches coinciding through subduction zones—points wherein two nearby tectonic bowl collide, one being forced listed below the other.

Pacific Ocean, human body of salt water extending from the 60° S parallel in the southern to the Arctic in the north and lying between the continent of Asia and also Australia ~ above the west and also North America and also South America on the east.


Big Sur
Mountainous coastline of the eastern Pacific Ocean, huge Sur, California.
Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images

Western region

The seaward boundary of the west Pacific region is marked by a damaged line that oceanic trenches, prolonging from the Aleutian Trench in the north with the Kuril and also Japan trenches and southward come the Tonga and Kermadec trenches, terminating close come the northeast of north Island, new Zealand. Its framework is more facility than that of the east region. Characteristically connected with the ocean trenches of the western an ar are festoons of either peninsulas or archipelago or both. The islands, which encompass those of Japan as well as numerous smaller islands, stand for the upper components of mountain systems that climb abruptly native the deep s floor. The island swarm of the western Pacific kind the borders of the several broad and deep continental seas that the region.


Palau: rock islands
Aerial watch of absent islands, Palau.

Extending southward native the Tasman basin (between new Zealand and eastern Australia) is the Macquarie Ridge, which forms a significant boundary between the deep waters that the Pacific and also Indian oceans. The Hawaiian Ridge extends westward from Hawaii to the 180° meridian.

The submerged components of the collection of ridges that space capped through the island archipelagoes of the western Pacific are consistent and room to be found at depth of much less than about 2,000 feet (610 metres). These ridges incorporate the Aleutian Ridge in the northwestern Pacific; the collection of ridges prolonging southward through the Kuril, Bonin, and also Mariana island groups, and the archipelagoes that Yap and Palau; those extending eastward from new Guinea, consisting of the Bismarck Archipelago and also the Solomon and also Santa Cruz island chains; and, finally, the ridges expanding southward, indigenous which rise the Samoa, Tonga, Kermadec, and also Chatham island groups, and also Macquarie Island.

Bottom deposits

Apart indigenous the narrow seaside zone that the eastern region and the large continental seas that the western region, the Pacific is floored v pelagic (oceanic) material acquired from the stays of marine plants and also animals that once inhabited the waters lie above. Red or brown radiolarian ooze is discovered along the zone of the Pacific phibìc Equatorial Current, eastern of longitude 170° W, and on the floors of some deep Indonesian basins. A belt that diatom ooze occurs in between latitudes 45° and also 60° S and across the phibìc Pacific, between Japan and Alaska. Calcareous globigerina ooze occurs in the shallower parts of the southern Pacific, the dissolving power of the seawater at an excellent depths being sufficient to dissolve calcareous material to together an level that this oozes are not generally uncovered at depths in excess of about 15,000 feet (4,600 metres). Silica-containing material, such as radiolarian and diatom ooze, is found at greater depths, however even these siliceous continues to be are liquified at very an excellent depths, wherein the characteristic deposit is red clay. Red clay, i m sorry covers no less than half of the Pacific floor, is thought to be formed of colloidal (extremely finely divided) clays obtained essentially from the land.


Manganese nodules
Manganese nodules ~ above the southerly Pacific ocean floor.
Courtesy of the Lamont-Doherty geological Observatory, Columbia University

On the abyssal plains, where sediments accumulate slowly, chemical and biological processes result in the development of metal-bearing coatings roughly objects such together the ear skeleton of fishes. The nodules so formed contain manganese, iron, nickel, copper, cobalt, and traces of other metals such as platinum. Castle cover large areas of the s floor in the Pacific. Similar processes kind coatings, called manganese crusts, ~ above the absent surfaces the seamounts.

Among the countless different develops of land-derived muds (formed through the erosive action of rivers, tides, and also currents) that floor the continental shelves and also slopes that the Pacific, the yellow mud of the Yellow Sea is of details interest. The mud is conveyed to the seabed by the Huang He, which drains a large area of north China blanketed with loess, a fine-grained soil.


The archipelago of the western region—including the Aleutians, the Kurils, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, the Malay Archipelago (including new Guinea), and brand-new Zealand—are continental in character. Geologically, lock consist partly of sedimentary rocks, and their frameworks are similar to those the the coastal mountain varieties of the surrounding continent.

The summit the a partly submerged volcano forms the overview of Kraternaya Bay, Yankich Island, in the Kuril islands of Russia.

A geologically necessary boundary in between the continental, or “high,” islands and the plenty of truly oceanic, or “low,” islands of the Pacific is the Andesite Line, a an ar of intense volcanic and seismic activity. In the northern and also western Pacific the Andesite Line complies with close to seaward the trend of the island arcs from the Aleutians southward to the Yap and Palau arcs, thence eastward v the Bismarck, Solomon, and Santa Cruz archipelagoes, and thence southward with the Samoa, Tonga, and Chatham groups and also Macquarie Island come Antarctica. Archipelago to the west of the line room rich in andesite, a kind of intrusive igneous rock; archipelago to the eastern (oceanic side) of that are basically of basalt, one extrusive igneous rock.

The numerous oceanic archipelago of the Pacific space unevenly distributed. Lock lie, in the main, in between the Tropics that Cancer and also Capricorn and also occur in an excellent numbers in the west Pacific. The northernmost chain that oceanic archipelago is linked with the Hawaiian Ridge. The Hawaiian archipelago consists of about 2,000 islands, return the term Hawaiian islands is usually used to the tiny group that lies at the eastern finish of the archipelago.

The numerous little islands that Micronesia lie largely north of the Equator and also to the west of the 180° meridian. Practically all are coralline; the principal teams are the Marianas, the Marshalls, the Carolines, Kiribati (Gilbert Islands), and also Tuvalu (Ellice Islands).

Funafuti Atoll
Aerial check out of Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu.
Department of international Affairs and Trade, Australia

To the south of Micronesia lies Melanesia, which is composed mostly of little coral islands. The ar physiography is conquered by a group of big continental islands, however, including new Guinea. The primary Melanesian island teams are the Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomons, Vanuatu (New Hebrides), brand-new Caledonia, and also Fiji.

The tremendous area the Polynesia contains the Hawaiian Islands, the Phoenix Islands, Samoa, Tonga, the cook Islands, the society Islands, Tuamotu, and also the Marquesas.


Evidence attracted from assorted geophysical fields—seismology, volcanology, gravimetry, and also paleomagnetism (remanent magnetism)—points to the general validity the the concept of key tectonics. All the major physical attributes in the Pacific are understood to originate in bowl tectonics. The western Pacific arcs of volcanic islands and deep trenches space convergent area where two plates are colliding, one being subducted (forced under the other). The eastern Pacific increase is an energetic spreading centre where brand-new crust is gift created. The northeastern Pacific margin is the strike-slip zone wherein the American Plate and also the Pacific Plate are gliding laterally previous each other via the major San Andreas error system. In the southeastern Pacific, however, the Nazca Plate and the southern American Plate space colliding to kind the Andes mountains along western south America and, a brief distance offshore, the Peru-Chile Trench. The floor that the northeastern Pacific is impressive for that is several major fracture zones, which expand east and west and which, in part instances, room identifiable over distances of thousands of miles.

Of great geologic interest space the seamounts (submerged volcanoes), guyots (flat-topped seamounts), and oceanic islands of the Pacific. The many tropical islands of the Pacific are mostly coralline. The principal varieties of coral reefs—fringing, barrier, and also atoll—as well together the guyots, which climb within the Pacific indigenous the s floor in latitudes north and south of the tropics, are described partially by the slow subsidence theory advanced by the English naturalist Charles Darwin during the 19th century and partially through the theory of key tectonics.

Solomon Islands
Fringing coral reefs, brand-new Georgia Islands, Solomon Islands.

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Michael Pitts/Nature photo Library


The wind and pressure systems of the Pacific conform very closely to the planetary system—the patterns of waiting pressure and also the consequent wind trends that build in the atmosphere of the earth as a an outcome of its rotation (Coriolis force) and the inclination the its axis (ecliptic) toward the Sun. Castle are, in essence, a three-celled latitudinal setup of the atmospheric circulation, through the solution in the Northern and Southern hemispheres mirroring each various other on opposite political parties of the Equator. The substantial extent of open up water in the Pacific influences wind and also pressure fads over it, and climatic conditions in the southern and also eastern Pacific—where the steadiness that the trade winds and also the westerlies is remarkable—are the many uniform ~ above the globe. In the north Pacific, however, conditions are no so uniform, an especially the considerable climatic differences in between the eastern and also western regions in the exact same latitude. The rigour of the winters off the east shore of Russia, because that instance, contrasts sharply v the family member mildness of winters in the region of brother Columbia.