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Atlantic Ocean: Location, Facts & Climate

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  • 0:03 Where Is the Atlantic Ocean?
  • 0:40 Ocean Depth
  • 1:07 Mountains & Volcanoes
  • 2:07 Climate & Sea Life
  • 3:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years and has a focus on special education and urban education. She received her Master's degree in teaching from Simmon's College and her Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

This lesson is about the Atlantic Ocean, the second largest ocean in the world. We'll explore the climate, ecosystems and location of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as some fascinating facts.

Where Is the Atlantic Ocean?

Imagine you're on a beach vacation in the Caribbean or Eastern Mexico. The beach is covered by beautiful, white sand and the waves splash quietly against the shoreline. These calming waves originate from the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean is a large, S-shaped body of seawater found between the coastlines of the Americas and Europe and Africa. It's the second largest ocean in the world; only the Pacific Ocean is larger. The Atlantic Ocean spans both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, extending from a Northern latitude of about 60 degrees to a Southern latitude of approximately 60 degrees.

Ocean Depth

While the depth of the Atlantic Ocean varies greatly based on location, the average depth ranges from approximately 11,000 to 13,000 feet. The deepest point can be found in the Milwaukee Deep in the Puerto Rico Trench, which extends over 28,000 feet, or about five miles, below the sea's surface, near the island of Puerto Rico. For the purposes of a comparison, Mount Everest, the largest mountain in the world, has a height of 29,029 feet.

Mountains and Volcanoes

When you wade out into the Atlantic Ocean, the sandy floor will most likely feel flat. However, away from the shore, it becomes a mountainous scene that rivals some of the major mountain ranges on the Earth's land surface. The most notable is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which spans over 1,000 miles wide across the middle of the sea floor. That's about a third of the distance from one end of the United States to the other.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is actually an active volcanic range of mountains. Volcanoes, including the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, are formed by tectonic plates, or large pieces of the Earth's crust. Hot lava from inside the Earth spews out, cooling, and producing the mountain range seen underwater. In some places, the height of the ridge is actually so high that it forms islands, like Iceland.

Some of the largest volcanic explosions occur under the Earth's surface. The volcanic eruptions also cause the formation of hydrothermal vents, which explode gases and extremely hot water into the ocean.

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