continental shelf

noun

Definition of continental shelf

: a shallow submarine plain of varying width forming a border to a continent and typically ending in a comparatively steep slope to the deep ocean floor

Illustration of continental shelf

Illustration of continental shelf

continental shelf: 1 seashore, 2 continental shelf, 3 continental slope, 4 abyssal plain, 5 seamount

Examples of continental shelf in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Our observations suggest that large continental shelves, ocean banks, and strong storms are the three factors that are necessary for the generation of stormquakes. BostonGlobe.com, "Large storms such as the hurricanes and nor’easters that sweep off New England can whip up ocean waves to the point where they pound the sea floor, causing hundreds of underwater earthquakes, or “stormquakes,” a new scientific study suggests.," 26 Oct. 2019 Related: See powerful Storms across the solar system 1/10 View Slideshow For one, the quakes came from regions with a broad continental shelf, an underwater section of a continent just off the coast that is relatively shallow. National Geographic, "New seismic phenomenon discovered, named stormquakes," 16 Oct. 2019 Researchers found certain hot spots, near the edge of the continental shelf and around ocean banks, said Wenyuan Fan, a geophysics professor at Florida State University who was the lead author of the study. BostonGlobe.com, "Large storms such as the hurricanes and nor’easters that sweep off New England can whip up ocean waves to the point where they pound the sea floor, causing hundreds of underwater earthquakes, or “stormquakes,” a new scientific study suggests.," 26 Oct. 2019 Typically, storms that run over the continental shelf cause an upwelling that works to weaken the storm. Kimberly Miller, sun-sentinel.com, "A monster grew in the Gulf of Mexico. Here’s why more may follow," 9 Oct. 2019 Heading out The Oceanic Society offers regular trips into the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, where the boat Salty Lady ventures out the Golden Gate to the Farallon Islands and beyond 6 miles to the edge of the continental shelf. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Humpbacks, killer whales, fin whales star in coastal spectacle," 28 Aug. 2019 That’s when plants and animals in the shallows atop the continental shelf are normally bulking up at the beginning of a new growing season. Washington Post, "Mississippi seeks seafood disaster amid spillway complaints," 8 June 2019 Each nation gets exclusive economic rights to the area where its continental shelf extends into the ocean, up to 200 nautical miles beyond its coast. Zoë Schlanger, Quartz, "Does the North Pole belong to Canada?," 10 July 2019 All that remains are mountaintops that are now St. Lawrence and other islands, and the outline on maps that shows the continental shelf spreading underwater like pancake batter. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Was the Bering Land Bridge a good place to live?," 24 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'continental shelf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of continental shelf

1892, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for continental shelf

Time Traveler

The first known use of continental shelf was in 1892

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Statistics for continental shelf

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Continental shelf.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/continental%20shelf. Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for continental shelf

continental shelf

noun

English Language Learners Definition of continental shelf

technical : the part of a continent that lies under the ocean and slopes down to the ocean floor

More from Merriam-Webster on continental shelf

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about continental shelf

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