Colour map of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Topographical map of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
In the middle of the Atlantic, a vast underwater mountain range rises from the ocean floor, and extends almost the entire length of the ocean. This submarine Mid-Atlantic Ridge owes its formation to the movement of the continental plates on either side of the ocean. As these plates slowly separate, they leave gaps in the earth’s crust. This allows molten rock from beneath the earth’s crust to reach the surface, forming a new part of the ocean floor. As the molten rock seeps through the gap at some pressure, it spews upward, forming a ridge. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is so tall, that it actually rises above sea level in many places, forming volcanic islands. The Azores, Ascension, St. Helena, and Tristan da Cunha all arise from this great Atlantic range. Iceland too is a submarine ridge island. It sits at the northern crest of the Mid-Atlantic ridge, and is the largest island of the ridge. These islands are vocanic in origin, and thus do not have any foundation on continental rock.