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Marine Guide

What is the Mid-Ocean Ridge?



What is Mid Ocean Ridge?

The mid-ocean ridge is a continuous range of mainly undersea volcanic mountains that encircles the globe. The mid-ocean ridge has the distinction of being the mountain range that covers the largest area.

Facts about the Mid-Ocean Ridge

You can visualize the mid-ocean ridge as a baseball seam wrapping the Earth for more than 65,000 Km. These are truly natural wonders as they have a seafloor terrain that is more diverse than the dry land. The ridge includes numerous volcanic mountains, frozen molten rocks, fault lines, and other geographical features. The average depth of the ridge ranges from 2.5 Km. But it may go down till 4 KM and also rise up like in the case of Iceland.

The inner portion of the earth constantly emits heat which causes alteration in the tectonic plates. This results in a large-scale underwater mountain range known as the mid-ocean ridge. Mid-ocean ridges cause oceans to get divided. The earth’s heat emission is a continuous process. Hence, the alteration and creation of these mid-ocean ridges is a continuous process.

Thus, we can define mid-ocean ridges as an underwater mountain system which is form by plate tectonics.

It is a process that has been going on since the very start of the planet’s evolution.  They extend across the seven continents of the world and covers nearly 40,000 miles along the bottom of the ocean floor.

The earth lets out hot magma from its core which in turn is responsible for mid-ocean ridges to continue changing. This hot magma is let out when the convection currents in the earth’s mantle below the oceanic crust rise. This also leads to the uplifting of the ocean floor. Thus, we can say, that the whole process including the emission of lava and magma to the creation of mid-ocean ridges is a diverging phenomenon. The ocean bed gets separated because of the digression and changes in the coursing of its path. As oceanic plates move apart, the molten rocks from deep under the Earth’s core comes out to the seafloor as volcanoes. Much of the molten rocks freezes on the seafloor also.

Mid-ocean ridge cut away view

Mid-ocean ridge cutaway view

The entire landmass of the earth split into various continents that got scattered all over. The one super-continent out of which all the other continents were formed is called Pangaea. This too was caused by the same tectonic plates that give rise to the mid-ocean ridges. This phenomenon is also known as continental drift. The primary reason for the creation and separation of the landmass is the continuous movement under the surface of the earth, as well as the extreme temperatures there.

Mid-ocean ridges are known to be areas of high volcanic activity and seismicity because of new magma continuously emerging on the ocean floor. Most of the volcanoes are not known as they occur undersea. Scientists also are able to cover only a fraction of these undersea volcanic activities which also cause many earthquakes.

From the studies and research that have been carried out regarding the formation of the mid-ocean ridges as well as the various complex processes that are involved, it has been confirmed that the uninterrupted movement would further separate the continents in the future. The plates are spreading apart at rates of 1 cm to 20 cm per year.

Mid-Oceanic Range

Mid-Oceanic Range (pic courtesy:

Like any evolution, the process is a slow but a continuous one. Why continuous? Because the earth’s core is going to remain hot forever. The process cannot be changed or stopped permanently.

From the previous paragraphs, it can be assumed that it is pretty evident that several unaccounted volcanoes, that are capable of creating a tsunami wave, can be triggered by the formation of these mid-ocean ridges.

It is a general human tendency to strive towards enhancing our quality of life. Thankfully, the earth seems to be providing all the resources that are needed for that. It also happens to be the only place where life has been known to exist for several thousands of years. Several years ago, evolution altered the earth in such a manner that the entire population of the dinosaurs got wiped out of the face of the earth. Therefore, it is not really a far-fetched idea that in the years to come to the total geography of the earth as we know it would change.

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