Continental Shelves

The continental shelves of the Canadian Pacific are very narrow and drop steeply downwards at their edges

Canadaís Pacific coast lies on the edge of a continental shelf that reaches an average depth of about 200 metres, but is very steep and narrow. In most regions the Pacific Shelf is less than 45 kilometres wide, and it only rarely reaches its maximum width of 95 kilometres. It can be divided into 3 regions: the Queen Charlotte Shelf, Queen Charlotte Sound, and the Vancouver Island Shelf.

The Queen Charlotte Shelf is a narrow section of the Pacific continental shelf that ranges from 7-30 kilometres in width. This region lies west of the Queen Charlotte Islands in northern British Columbia. Beyond the shelf, the continental slope plunges steeply, dropping to a depth of about 2500 metres where it meets the Pacific Oceanís abyssal plains. Beyond the Queen Charlotte Shelf is a large seamount - an underwater volcanic rise that has a height of over three kilometres. Called the Bowie Seamount, this structure lies over 200 kilometres west of the coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands and rises from the flat abyssal plain to within 37 metres of the ocean surface. The continental shelf around the area of Queen Charlotte Sound, just south of the islands, is considerably wider, reaching out to sea as far as 95 kilometres. The Vancouver Island Shelf ranges from 20 to 80 kilometers in width. Glaciers have gouged deep depressions in some parts of this shelf leaving several basins - sloping circular pits - and troughs, which are longer, steeper and more flat-bottomed than basins.