Topography of the Ocean Floor Explained

The topography of the ocean floor is a vast and diverse as the topography of the land. The world ocean contains four basins each which contain its share of ridges, trenches, volcanoes, shelves and continental rise. They are the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific, and Indian. The Southern officially joined this group since the year 2000.  The undersea world causes many of the landforms that the world contains. Without the pressure of the undersea forms, the land topography would differ.

Where to see or study the topography

The Hawaiian Islands especially provide examples of this as those islands change often. Other places to study the topography of the sea are the Charleston bump, Glacier Bay, Gulf of Alaska Seamounts, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Stream, Hudson Bay, Mariana Trench, Monterey Canyon and Puerto Rico Trench.

Defining the topography

Oceanography is the study of oceans. Oceanographers are the people who study ocean topography. Rivers and streams flow into basins. Ridges separate the basins from each other. They usually form over a hot spot from volcanoes. Trenches are deep and similar to canyons. The most famous is the Mariana Trench though the oceans have many. Shelves are along the coastlines of the continents. They extend out to deep water. Continental slopes are zones that reach all the way to the deepest part of the oceans. The mid-ocean rise occurs in the middle of each of the oceans.

The composition of the oceans

The Atlantic Ocean’s composition contains 31.2% rises and ridges, 0.7% trenches, 19.4% shelves and slopes, 8.5% continental rise, 2.1% volcanoes. Both the Arctic and Southern Ocean share a composition is 50% continental shelf and rest minimal amounts of ridges and abyssal plains. The Indian Ocean is 30.2% rises and slopes, 0.3% trenches, 9.1% shelves, 5.4% volcanoes and volcanic ridges, 5.7% continental rise and the remainder deep ocean floor. The Pacific Ocean is 35.9% rises and ridges, 2.0% trenches, 13.1% shelves, 2.7% continental rise, 2.5% volcanoes and volcanic ridges.


Below the continental shelves in the sea beds, zones occur. They include the epipelagic, the mesopelagic, the bathypelagic and the abyssopelagic in that order. The water depth increases at each zone. In the different zones, different sedimentary rock occurs and without the marine life. In these areas, cracks and vents can form.


Submersibles both manned and unmanned have brought the discovery that oceanographers currently have. The most famous submersible and the discoveries it found is Alvin. In 1974, it helped to explore the Atlantic mid-ocean ridge that confirmed scientist’s views about seafloor spreading. Alvin also discovered hydrothermal vents and the animals that live there.