Oceanic Plateau

Oceanic Plateau

Oceanic Plateau Landforms Have 2 Main Characteristics:

  1. An elevated area of the seafloor
  2. Higher than the surrounding area

Example of an Oceanic Plateau Landform:
Caribbean Plateau, Caribbean Sea
The oceanic plateau above is of Kerguelen

What is an Oceanic Plateau Landform?

An oceanic plateau is an elevated portion of the seafloor that is generally flat and level, similar to a plateau on dry land. A continental shelf is not a plateau. However, a plateau can exist on a continental shelf, raised above the surrounding seafloor.

How are Oceanic Plateaus Formed?

An oceanic plateau can be formed by volcanic activity that produces lava flows under the ocean.

How Large is an Oceanic Plateau?

A small plateau under the ocean may be only a dozen miles long. Some oceanic plateaus are hundreds of miles in length and width.

Where Can an Oceanic Plateau Be Found?

An oceanic plateau may be elevated above the surrounding deep seafloor of an abyssal plain. A plateau may also be found on a continental shelf, risen above the surrounding area and below the water’s surface.

Famous Oceanic Plateaus and Facts

• Caribbean Plateau, Caribbean Sea
• Challenger, Chatham Rise and Campbell Oceanic Plateaus, southwest Pacific Ocean
• Kerguelen Plateau, Southern Ocean
• Shatsky Rise, western Pacific Ocean

The Caribbean Plateau lies under much of the Caribbean Sea. A more elevated portion of the plateau extends south from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico for 250 miles toward Venezuela. Several oceanic plateaus surround the islands of New Zealand.

All are a part of what is sometimes called a submerged continent called Zealandia that sank sometime after breaking away from Antarctica at least 85 million years ago. Challenger plateau occupies a large area reaching up to 200 miles off the west coast of New Zealand. Chatham Rise is another plateau that extends east from South Island of New Zealandfor 400 miles, and Campbell plateau stretches east and south from the southern tip of South Island for 300 miles in both directions.

The Kerguelen Plateau is another submerged island or small continent in the Southern Ocean, south of the Indian Ocean and about 1,400 miles long. It was last above water about 20 million years ago, created by the Kerguelen Hotspot which currently exists under the Kerguelen, Heard and McDonald Islands above the plateau.

The Shatsky Rise is an oceanic plateau that lies southeast of Japan about 1,500 miles in the western Pacific Ocean. It has what may be the world’s largest volcano called Tamu Massif. A recent study indicates it may be a very large shield volcano formed by fluid basaltic lava flows. It is 400 miles long by almost 300 miles wide, standing over 14,000 feet above the seafloor.

Oceanic Plateau Definition:

A portion of the seafloor that is elevated above the surrounding area and is generally flat and level

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