Relief courtesy of National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA
Earth’s continental landscapes—mountains, valleys, canyons—are familiar to students everywhere. But many students do not realize that ocean floor landscapes are equally dramatic and varied.
In the map to the right, which uses a technique called "choropleth mapping" to show depth, areas of darkest blue are the deepest parts of the oceans, while areas of light blue are relatively shallow.
Oceans cover approximately 71% of Earth’s surface. Their average depth is 16,000 feet (4,880 meters). But the ocean floor is marked by mountain chains called "mid-ocean ridges" and deep valleys called "trenches."
Mapping the Ocean Floor Landscape
Provide students with blank world maps.
Have students use National Geographic ocean floor maps to locate and label the following ocean floor features on their outline maps.
Features on the Ocean Floor
Pacific Ocean – Mariana Trench (-35, 827 ft/ -10,920 m.) Japan Trench (-34,318 ft/-10,375 m.); East Pacific Rise (under water ridge)
Atlantic Ocean – Puerto Rico Trench (-28,231 ft./-8,605 m.); Brazil Basin (-20,898 ft./-6,310 m.); Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Indian Ocean – Java Trench (-23,812 ft./-7,258 m.); Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge
Arctic Ocean – Fram Basin (-15,305 ft./-4,665 m.); Lomonosov Ridge
In 2000, the International Hydrographic Organization identified a fifth division in Earth’s oceans—sometimes called the Southern Ocean. This ocean area, which extends from the shores of Antarctica to 60º South latitude, is not universally recognized as a separate ocean. Have students research the so-called Southern Ocean and identify its unique characteristics.
National Geographic Bee Competitions
The state competition of the National Geographic Bee was held on March 27 in each state and the District of Columbia. Fifty-one state champs as well as champions from the United States Territories and Department of Defense schools will travel to National Geographic headquarters in Washington D.C. for the national championship on May 11 to 13. View the list of state Bee champions.
The national championship preliminary rounds will take place on Monday, May 11, in Washington, D.C. The national championship final rounds, featuring the top ten finalists and moderated by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, will be held on Wednesday, May 13, at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. National Geographic Channel will air the final round of the National Geographic Bee Championship at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Friday, May 15, and on Wednesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Nat Geo WILD. It will also air on public television stations; check local television listings for dates and times.
Gain a Global Perspective
The 2014 National Geographic Bee finalists gush about geography.
How to Help
Donations help fund schools to participate in the National Geographic Bee.
Teachers can use these activities in the classroom to prepare students for the bee!
Simply memorizing terms and place locations can be tedious and even boring. One solution is to make the task fun with an atlas-based scavenger game.
The movement of people, goods, or ideas from one place to another is a process known as diffusion, which plays an important role in shaping the characteristics of where we live.
Springtime brings the possibility of extreme weather, including violent thunderstorms and tornadoes.