What is Ocean Relief?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

Ocean relief, often known as underwater relief, refers to relief features on the ocean floor such as mountains, basins, plateaus, ridges, canyons, and trenches. The ocean water covers landscapes such as basins, grasslands, ridges, mountains, trenches, and canyons that are identical to those found on the continents. These are also found beneath the ocean’s surface. Ocean basins are divided into four categories. These are the continental slope, the ocean depths, the abyssal plains, and the continental shelf.

Similar to how continents are formed, these Ocean Relief features are the result of tectonic, volcanic, and depositional processes. Between 3-6 km below sea level is where the majority of the ocean’s floor is found.

Ocean Relief Definition and Meaning

The ocean conceals a wide range of landscapes that are remarkably similar to those found on the continents. Under the ocean, there are mountains, basins, plateaus, ridges, canyons, and trenches. Ocean relief or submarine relief refers to these relief features found on the ocean floor.

The oceans, unlike the continents, merge so naturally into one another that it is hard to determine them.

  • Geographers have classified the world’s oceans into five groups: the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic, Southern, and Arctic.
  • The four significant oceans contain numerous gulfs, seas, bays, and inlets.
  • A significant portion of the ocean floor can be observed between 3-6 kilometers below sea level.
  • The ocean floors are rugged, with the world’s greatest mountain ranges, deepest canals, and most widespread plains.
  • These features, like continents, are created by depositional processes or tectonic and volcanic events.

Features of Oceans Relief

The land beneath the ocean is the ocean floor that exhibits complex and distinct properties similar to the variants on land. Ocean floors can be divided into four main divisions that are as follows – Continental shelf, continental slope, abyssal plain, and ocean depths.

Continental Shelf:

  • A continental shelf is a submerged part of a continent that gradually slopes towards the sea from the coast.
  • A submarine canyon is a deep valley cut into the continental shelf and extends into the continental slope.

Continental Slope:

  • The continental slope is a steeply sloping part of the seafloor that marks the boundary between the seafloor and the continental shelf.
  • A belt of sediments deposited along the base is called a continental slope.

Abyssal Plain:

  • They cover much of the ocean floor at a depth of 3,000 to 6,000 m.
  • These plains are covered with fine-grained sediments such as clay and silt.

Ocean depths:

  • They are depressions on the ocean floor that are long, narrow, steep, and flat.
    Submarine trenches are the common name for them.
  • They are typically found close to seismically active and volcanically active regions.
  • They give birth to large earthquakes and tsunamis.

Small features of Ocean Relief

Certain other small features of Ocean Relief are as follows:-

  • Ridges
  • Hills
  • Seamounts
  • Guys
  • Ditches
  • Canyons
  • Sleeping
  • Fracture zones


What are the Relief Features of the Oceans?

The Features of Oceans Relief are rocky ocean floors containing the largest plains, the highest mountain ranges, and the deepest trenches in the world. These features result from tectonic, volcanic, and depositional processes, much like how continents are formed. Between 3 and 6 kilometers below sea level, the majority of the ocean floor can be found.

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