The Greenland Shelf

The Greenland continental shelf

The Greenland continental shelf extends for nearly 300 kilometres off the west coast into the Greenland Sea, at a depth of 350 to 450 metres. The Greenland shelf, like all other continental shelves, extends until it reaches the shelf break. At this point the shelf begins to slope downwards, sometimes at a very steep gradient. Often, deep channels that form in the shelves extend from the ocean floor all the way up the slope to the top of the shelf. Glaciers probably gouged out these channels, as they moved along the shelf. The Greenland shelf is marked by many of these channels, a reminder of the glaciers that carved this land, and continue to exist, in Greenland's extensive ice cap. A number of glacier-formed channels and canyons also cut through sections of this continental shelf, which lie off Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands. However, the glacier-free coasts of the other Queen Elizabeth Islands are devoid of these extensive channels.