continental shelf

noun Physical Geography.
the part of a continent that is submerged in relatively shallow sea.

Origin:
1940–45

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Collins
World English Dictionary
continental shelf
 
n
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

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
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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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

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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Example sentences
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.
Images for continental shelf
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