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Pacific Ocean

Earth Ocean ::-- Arctic Ocean||Indian Ocean|| Pacific Ocean||Southern Ocean||Atlantic Ocean||

The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.
At 165.2 million square kilometres (64.1 million square miles) in area, this largest division of the World Ocean – and, in turn, the hydrosphere – covers about 46% of the Earth's water surface and about one-third of its total surface area, making it larger than all of the Earth's land area combined. The equator subdivides it into the North Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, with two exceptions: the Galápagos and Gilbert Islands, while straddling the equator, are deemed wholly within the South Pacific. The Mariana Trench in the western North Pacific is the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of 10,911 metres (35,797 ft).
The Pacific Ocean was sighted by Europeans early in the 16th century, first by the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and named it Mar del Sur (South Sea). Its current name was given by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish expedition of world circumnavigation in 1521, who encountered favourable winds as he reached the ocean and called it Mar Pacifico in Portuguese, meaning "peaceful sea".


The Pacific Ocean encompasses approximately one-third of the Earth's surface, having an area of 165.2 million square kilometres (64.1 million square miles) —significantly larger than Earth's entire landmass, with room for another Africa to spare.
Extending approximately 15,500 kilometres (9,600 mi) from the Bering Sea in the Arctic to the northern extent of the circumpolar Southern Ocean at 60°S (older definitions extend it to Antarctica's Ross Sea), the Pacific reaches its greatest east-west width at about 5°N latitude, where it stretches approximately 19,800 kilometres (12,300 mi) from Indonesia to the coast of Colombia and Peru – halfway across the world, and more than five times the diameter of the Moon. The lowest known point on earth—the Mariana Trench—lies 10,911 metres (35,797 ft) below sea level. Its average depth is 4028~4188metres (14,000 ft).
The Pacific Ocean is currently shrinking due to plate tectonics, while the Atlantic Ocean is increasing in size, by roughly an inch per year (2–3 cm/yr) on 3 sides, roughly averaging 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) a year.

Along the Pacific Ocean's irregular western margins lie many seas, the largest of which are the Celebes Sea, Coral Sea, East China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, South China Sea, Sulu Sea, Tasman Sea, and Yellow Sea. The Strait of Malacca joins the Pacific and the Indian Oceans on the west, and Drake Passage and the Straits of Magellan link the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean on the east. To the north, the Bering Strait connects the Pacific with the Arctic Ocean.
As the Pacific straddles the 180th meridian, the West Pacific (or western Pacific, near Asia) is in the Eastern Hemisphere, while the East Pacific (or eastern Pacific, near the Americas) is in the Western Hemisphere.
For most of Magellan's voyage from the Strait of Magellan to the Philippines, the explorer indeed found the ocean peaceful. However, the Pacific is not always peaceful. Many tropical storms batter the islands of the Pacific. The lands around the Pacific Rim are full of volcanoes and often affected by earthquakes. Tsunamis, caused by underwater earthquakes, have devastated many islands and in some cases destroyed entire towns.

Pacific Ocean Geology

The ocean was mapped by a man named Abraham Ortelius; he called it Maris Pacifici because of Ferdinand Magellan, who sailed the Pacific during his circumnavigation from 1519 to 1522 and said that it was much more calm than the Atlantic.
The andesite line is the most significant regional distinction in the Pacific. It separates the deeper, mafic igneous rock of the Central Pacific Basin from the partially submerged continental areas of felsic igneous rock on its margins. The andesite line follows the western edge of the islands off California and passes south of the Aleutian arc, along the eastern edge of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands, Japan, the Mariana Islands, the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand's North Island.
The dissimilarity continues northeastward along the western edge of the Andes Cordillera along South America to Mexico, returning then to the islands off California. Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, New Guinea, and New Zealand lie outside the Andesite Line.
Within the closed loop of the Andesite Line are most of the deep troughs, submerged volcanic mountains, and oceanic volcanic islands that characterize the Pacific basin. Here basaltic lavas gently flow out of rifts to build huge dome-shaped volcanic mountains whose eroded summits form island arcs, chains, and clusters. Outside the Andesite Line, volcanism is of the explosive type, and the Pacific Ring of Fire is the world's foremost belt of explosive volcanism. The Ring of Fire is named after the several hundred active volcanoes that sit above the various subduction zones.
The Pacific Ocean is the only ocean which is almost totally bounded by subduction zones. Only the Antarctic and Australian coasts have no nearby subduction zones.

pacific ocean

Landmasses and islands

The largest landmass entirely within the Pacific Ocean is the island of New Guinea— the second largest island in the world. Almost all of the smaller islands of the Pacific lie between 30°N and 30°S, extending from Southeast Asia to Easter Island; the rest of the Pacific Basin is almost entirely submerged. During the Last glacial period, New Guinea was part of Australia so the largest landmass would have been Borneo–Palawan.
The great triangle of Polynesia, connecting Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand, encompasses the island arcs and clusters of the Cook Islands, Marquesas Islands, Samoa, Society, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuamotu, Tuvalu and the Wallis and Futuna islands.
North of the equator and west of the International Date Line are the numerous small islands of Micronesia, including the Caroline Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Mariana Islands.

In the southwestern corner of the Pacific lie the islands of Melanesia, dominated by New Guinea. Other important island groups of Melanesia include the Bismarck Archipelago, Fiji, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
Islands in the Pacific Ocean are of four basic types: continental islands, high islands, coral reefs, and uplifted coral platforms. Continental islands lie outside the Andesite line and include New Guinea, the islands of New Zealand, and the Philippines. Some of these islands are structurally associated with nearby continents. High islands are of volcanic origin, and many contain active volcanoes. Among these are Bougainville, Hawaii, and the Solomon Islands.
The third and fourth types of islands are both the result of coralline island building. Coral reefs are low-lying structures that have built up on basaltic lava flows under the ocean's surface. One of the most dramatic is the Great Barrier Reef off northeastern Australia. A second island type formed of coral is the uplifted coral platform, which is usually slightly larger than the low coral islands. Examples include Banaba (formerly Ocean Island) and Makatea in the Tuamotu group of French Polynesia.

Pacific Ocean History and economy

Important human migrations occurred in the Pacific in prehistoric times, most notably those of the Polynesians from the Asian edge of the ocean to Tahiti and then to Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island.
The ocean was discovered by Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa in the early 16th century. Balboa's expedition crossed the Isthmus of Panama and reached the Pacific Ocean in 1513. He named it Mar del Sur (South Sea). Later, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailed the Pacific on a Spanish expedition of world circumnavigation from 1519 to 1522. Magellan called the ocean Pacífico or "Pacific" because he encountered calm seas throughout his journey. Although Magellan himself died in the Philippines in 1521, Spanish navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano led the expedition back to Spain across the Indian Ocean and round the Cape of Good Hope, completing the first world circumnavigation in 1522.
In 1564, Spanish explorers crossed the ocean from Mexico led by Miguel López de Legazpi who sailed to the Philippines and Mariana Islands. For the remainder of the 16th century, Spanish influence was paramount, with ships sailing from Mexico and Peru across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines, via Guam, and establishing the Spanish East Indies. The Manila Galleons operated for two and a half centuries linking Manila and Acapulco, in one of the longest trade routes in history. Spanish expeditions also discovered Tuvalu, the Marquesas, the Solomon Islands and New Guinea in the South Pacific.
Later, in the quest for Terra Australis, Spanish explorers in the 17th century also discovered the Pitcairn and Vanuatu archipelagos, and sailed the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea, named after navigator Luis Vaz de Torres. Dutch explorers, sailing around southern Africa, also engaged in discovery and trade; Abel Janszoon Tasman discovered Tasmania and New Zealand in 1642. The 18th century marked the beginning of major exploration by the Russians in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The Spanish also sent expeditions to the Pacific Northwest reaching Vancouver Island in southern Canada, and Alaska. The French explored and settled Polynesia, and the British made three voyages with James Cook to the South Pacific and Australia, Hawaii, and the North American Pacific Northwest. In 1768 Pierre-Antoine Véron, a young astronomer accompanying Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage of exploration, established the width of the Pacific with precision for the first time in history.