Introduction to Ocean Sciences

Animations

Ocean science is an interdisciplinary field, one that involves physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes. Here you can see some of those processes in action.

The following animations were developed by Stephen Marshak for Earth: Portrait of a Planet, Second Edition. If you are interested in learning more about geology and earth sciences, go to www.wwnorton.com/college/geo/earth2.

 

View animations related to these chapters:

 

Chapter 4. Plate Tectonics: Evolution of the Ocean Floor

Three Types of Plate Boundary
Three Types of Plate Boundary
The three types of plate boundaries, divergent, convergent (subduction zone), and transform, are shown in the following three-part animation. For more information, see Sections 4.3, 4.4, 4.5,and 4.6 starting on page 77 in your textbook.

 

The Red Sea: A New Ocean Forms
The Red Sea: A New Ocean Forms
A photo from space shows the Sinai Peninsula, separated from Egypt to the west and the Arabian Peninsula to the east by rifts, narrow belts where the crust has stretched and broken apart. A geologist’s sketch highlights the divergent and transform plate boundaries. For more information, see Section 4.3 starting on page 77, Section 4.5 starting on page 84, and Section 4.6 starting on page 88 in your textbook.

 

The Process of Subduction
The Process of Subduction
At convergent plate boundaries or convergent margins, two plates, at least one of which has an oceanic edge, move toward each other.  The oceanic crust plate or, if both plates have oceanic crust edges, the plate with the oldest oceanic crust bends and begins to sink, or subduct, into the asthenosphere beneath the other plate. The following animation shows the relative motions that occur at these subduction zones.  It also shows the formation of volcanoes and the accretion of sediments and sedimentary rocks scraped off the plate. For more information, see Section 4.4 starting on page 78 in your textbook. 

 

Subducation  Zone Volcanoes
Subduction Zone Volcanoes
Many subduction zone volcanoes, like Japan’s Mount Fuji, are cone-shaped and are called “stratovolcanoes.” Subduction zone volcanoes often erupt explosively and eject not just lava but also large quantities of ash formed from the mixture of oceanic crust and sediments that is melted as oceanic plates are subducted.  This animation examines the processes by which a stratovolcano forms. For more information, see Section 4.4 starting on page 78 in your textbook.

 

Collisions of Continents
Collisions of Continents
 At a convergent plate boundary where two continents collide, neither plate can be subducted, so the continental crust at the plate edges is compressed and a large mountain range develops. For more information, see Section 4.4 starting on page 78 in your textbook.

 

Formation of Ocean Crust
Formation of Oceanic Crust
Oceanic crust forms around and above a steady-state magma chamber. As the animation progresses, gabbro forms on the sides, dikes form above, and pillows form at the Earth's surface. Note that although the ridge maintains a consistent size and shape, the seafloor grows wider.  For more information, see Section 4.5 starting on page 84 in your textbook.

 

Formation of New Ocean from a Rift Zone
Formation of New Ocean from a Rift Zone
This animation shows the progressive formation and evolution of a rift zone and its development into a new ocean with a new oceanic ridge.  For more information, see Section 4.5 starting on page 84 in your textbook.

 

Transform Fault Motion and Formation of Fracture Zones
Transform Fault Motion and Formation of Fracture Zones
This animation shows the development of a transform fault along a divergent plate boundary. Plates slide past one another along a transform fault without the formation of new plate or the consumption of old plate. As this process occurs, new seafloor forms along the oceanic ridge. For more information, see Section 4.6 starting on page 88 in your textbook.

 

Hot Spot Volcanoes
Hot Spot Volcanoes
This animation shows how hot spot volcanoes are formed. A mantle plume beneath an oceanic plate creates a hot spot at the base of the lithosphere, and a volcano forms. Because the hot spot remains fixed as the plate moves over it, this volcano eventually becomes extinct and a new one forms. In time, a chain of extinct volcanoes develops, with a live volcano over the hot spot as the last link in the chain. For more information, see Section 4.7 starting on page 90 in your textbook.

 

Formation of Oil and Gas Reservoirs
Formation of Oil and Gas Reservoirs
This animation shows the successive stages in the formation of an oil reserve. In View 1, organic material settles in a highly productive newly formed ocean, is progressively buried, and is transformed by heat and pressure into oil as the margin slowly becomes a passive margin. In View 2, an oil trap is formed: the area folds, and oil migrates and accumulates most often in the sediments beneath the continental shelf and slope of a passive margin. For more information, see Section 4.8 starting on page 93 in your textbook.

 

Chapter 5. Plate Tectonics: History and Evidence

Sediment Layers
Sediment Layers
View 2 of this animation shows how sediment accumulates layer upon layer and how these layers can then be tilted, folded, uplifted, and eroded. For more information, see Section 5.2 starting on page 107 in your textbook.

 

Three Types of Plate Boundary
Three Types of Plate Boundary
The three types of plate boundaries, divergent, convergent (subduction zone), and transform, are shown in the following three-part animation. The first view illustrates how seafloor magnetic anomaly stripes are created as new seafloor develops at an oceanic ridge.  For more information, see Section 5.2 starting on page 107 and Section 5.10 starting on page 123 in your textbook.

 

The Process of Subducation
The Process of Subduction
At convergent plate boundaries or convergent margins, two plates, at least one of which has an oceanic edge, move toward each other.  The oceanic crust plate or, if both plates have oceanic crust edges, the plate with the oldest oceanic crust bends and begins to sink, or subduct, into the asthenosphere beneath the other plate. The following animation shows the relative motions that occur at these subduction zones.  It also shows the formation of volcanoes and the accretion of sediments and sedimentary rocks scraped off the plate. For more information, see Sections 5.7 and 5.8  starting on page 114  in your textbook.

 

Displacement by Movement on the San Andreas Fault
Displacement by Movements on the San Andreas Fault
The photo shows a wooden fence built across the San Andreas Fault. During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, slip on the fault broke and offset the fence. The amount the fence was offset indicates the displacement on the fault. For more information, see Section 5.7 starting on page 114 in your textbook.

 

Types of Earthquake Waves
Types of Earthquake Waves
Seismologists distinguish between different types of seismic waves based on how they move and whether they travel along the Earth’s surface (surface waves) or pass through its interior (body waves). This animation shows two types of body wave motion: View 1 shows shear body waves (also called S-waves), which do not travel through the earth’s liquid core, and View 2 shows compressional body waves (P-waves), which do travel through the liquid core. For more information, see Section 5.7 starting on page 114 in your textbook.

 

Types of Earthquake Waves
How Are Earthquake Waves Monitored?
Seismologists use two basic configurations of seismographs to monitor earthquake waves, one for measuring horizontal ground motion, like the one shown in this animation, and the other for measuring vertical ground motion.  During an earthquake, vibrations cause the frame of the seismograph to move. The pendulum apparatus remains fixed as the paper cylinder moves back and forth beneath it. For more information, see Section 5.7 starting on page 114 in your textbook.

 

Chapter 8. Sediments

Lithogenous Sediment Particles from Volcanoes
Lithogenous Sediment Particles from Volcanoes
Pompeii was buried by 6 m of volcanic debris from an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (shown in the background of the photograph) in 79 C.E. It was excavated by archaeologists in the late nineteenth century.  The animation illustrates how very large amounts of rock and volcanic ash must have been ejected by the volcano and carried long distances through the atmosphere.  The finer particles would have remained in the atmosphere for a long time and would have been deposited in ocean sediments throughout much of the globe.  For more information, see Section 8.3 starting on page 172 in your textbook.

 

Erosion by Glaciers as They Advance and Retreat
Erosion by Glaciers as They Advance and Retreat
Glaciers advance and retreat as climate changes.  As they do so, they erode rock continuously.  When they advance, View 1, they carry and bulldoze large rocks and deposit them at the glacier’s lower end.  When they retreat, View 2, this material is left behind and the small particles can be easily washed away and transported to the oceans.  Pay attention to the motion of the stones. Note that in all cases, ice flows downhill. For more information, see Section 8.3 starting on page 172 in your textbook.

 

Sediment Deposition
Sediment Deposition
View 2 of this animation shows how sediment layers accumulate and how these layers can then be tilted, folded, uplifted, and eroded. For more information, see Section 8.7 starting on page 183 in your textbook.

 

Complications in Reading the Sediment Historical Record
Complications in Reading the Sediment Historical Record
This animation shows how sediment layers can become distorted as a result of processes such as bending and squeezing of the tectonic plate and differential erosion. For more information, see Section 8.10 starting on page 191 in your textbook.

 

Chapter 10. Ocean Circulation

Eddies and Gulf Stream Rings
The Evolution of a Meandering Stream as an Example of the Motion that Creates Eddies and Gulf Stream Rings in the Ocean
Eddies and Gulf Stream rings develop in much the same way that meanders and oxbow lakes develop in rivers, as illustrated in this animation.  The main difference is that, in the ocean, there are no riverbanks to erode, so meanders can develop more easily, and when they are pinched off, the remaining isolated loop of current can continue to spin to become a warm core or cold core ring.  For more information, see Section 10.10 starting on page 259 in your textbook.

 

Chapter 13. Coasts

Erosion by Glaciers as they Advance and Retreat
Wave Erosion of Coastal Cliffs
This animation illustrates the process by which undercutting by waves removes the support beneath an overhang. Eventually, the overhang breaks off along joints, a rock fall occurs, and the cliff retreats. For more information, see Section 13.1 starting on page 338 in your textbook.

 

Erosion by Glaciers as they Advance and Retreat
Erosion by Glaciers as they Advance and Retreat
Glaciers advance and retreat as climate changes.  When they advance, View 1, they carry and bulldoze large rocks and deposit them at the glacier’s lower end.  When they retreat, View 2, this material is left behind.  The small particles can be easily washed away and transported to the oceans, but the larger rocks remain to form a glacial moraine.  If sea level rises to fill the valley cut by the glacier, the valley becomes a fjord and the moraine forms a shallow submerged sill at its entrance. Pay attention to the motion of the stones. For more information, see Section 13.1 starting on page 338 in your textbook.

 

Earthquakes and Erosion
Earthquakes and Erosion
The first two views of this animation illustrate how vertical movements during earthquakes and erosion can reshape the land.  When earthquakes take place at or near the coastline new coastline, can be formed.  Wave erosion is generally faster than the terrestrial erosion depicted in the animation, so if the area depicted in the animation were partially below sea level, wave erosion would alter the erosion pattern somewhat.  For more information, see Section 13.1 starting on page 338 in your textbook.

 

Longshore Currents and Longshore Drift
Longshore Currents and Longshore Drift
This animation illustrates the sawtooth motion that causes sand to migrate along beaches in a process called “longshore drift” and shows how this can create sand spits in places where the coastline indents landward. For more information, see Section 13.2 and 13.3 starting on page 351 in your textbook.

 

 

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