The Continental Shelf and Slope

The Continental Shelf has for many centuries been important for the economy of Norway. Geological knowledge of the shelf is required not only for locating oil reserves, but also to explain why Norwegian waters are among the world's most biologically productive.
3D-image over the continental shelf outside Senja/Andøya. Data from Kartverket and MAREANO.

Ocean depth on the continental shelf varies mostly between 100 m and 400 m. The shelf can be seen as a colossal dump yard directly off the coast, comprised of sediments transported in from the shore. Glaciers are to be held accountable for most of this activity.  During the ice ages massive amounts of sediment were dumped on the shelf and outside the edge of continental shelf.  In this way, parts of continental shelf edge moved up to 200 miles out from the shore. The most productive fishing areas on the Norwegian continental shelf, are found near these geological land forms. The fjords often continue beyond the continental shelf to form marine valleys which were dug out by fast moving ice during the ice age, creating banks teeming with fish.

Another good fishing area is shelf break, which is continental shelf's the outer boundary. The nutrients that follow the ocean currents up from the ocean depths attracts large amounts of fish, sea birds and whales. The shelf break, is the boundary between the continental shelf and continental slope. On the slope, we find many traces of submarine landslide activity, among other things, a ocean canyon and huge avalanche fans made up of sediment run-off.

3D-kart fra skredgropa etter Bjørnøyraset, på eggakanten halvveis mellom fastlandet og Bjørnøya. Data fra MAREANO.
3D-map from the pit after Bjørnøy submarine landslide, on the shelf break half-way between the mainland and Bjørnøy. Data from MAREANO.

Relaterte prosjekter

MAREANO maps the bathymetry, seafloor conditions, biodiversity, geodiversity and sedimentary contamination along the Norwegian coast and sea areas.