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continental shelf

noun, Physical Geography
the part of a continent that is submerged in relatively shallow sea.
Origin of continental shelf
1940-45 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for continental shelf
  • The transition from land to sea begins at the continental shelf, a gently sloping, submerged extension of the continent.
  • Many are the mere extension of a river canyon as it dumps into the ocean and flows across the continental shelf.
  • The ocean floor is divided into three segments: the continental shelf, the continental slope, and the deep-ocean or basin floor.
  • The continental shelf extends seaward from the current shoreline of many continental areas.
  • Treacherous shoals and reefs can be found along the continental shelf.
  • For predator and prey the continental shelf here makes ideal habitat.
  • Depending on how far out on the continental shelf an oil platform is located, workers may have to be flown in.
  • Most of the research is being conducted on the continental shelf.
  • It swirls around a bunch but then it settles on the continental shelf and eventually sediments into rock.
  • The level of surge in a particular area is also determined by the slope of the continental shelf.
British Dictionary definitions for continental shelf

continental shelf

the sea bed surrounding a continent at depths of up to about 200 metres (100 fathoms), at the edge of which the continental slope drops steeply to the ocean floor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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continental shelf in Science
continental shelf  
The part of the edge of a continent between the shoreline and the continental slope. It is covered by shallow ocean waters and has a very gentle slope.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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continental shelf in Culture

continental shelf definition

The region adjoining the coastline of a continent, where the ocean is no more than a few hundred feet deep. The shelf is built up from sediments washed down to the sea by rivers.

Note: The continental shelves are often valuable because of the mineral resources and abundant marine life found there. (See offshore drilling.)
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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