The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of the world’s oceans. Its area covers nearly 64 million square miles and it spreads over 46% of the earth’s surface which is more than the world’s total land mass. It stretches from the Arctic in the north to the Antarctic in the South. The Equator divides the Pacific into the North Pacific and the South Pacific. As well as the Ocean being vast in terms of the area it covers it is also extremely deep. It is on average 14,000 feet deep and the deepest point in the world is found along the Mariana Trench in the North West Pacific, at almost 36,000 feet.
The size of the Ocean can be summarized by the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 in March 2014. It disappeared over the South China Sea and the plane, nor its 239 crew and passengers, have ever been recovered. It is the second worse fatality that a Boeing Jet has suffered from. Despite the most modern research equipment and the efforts of numerous nations, the task of locating the crash site has proved to be fruitless. It has been estimated that over 70 million US dollars had been spent on the operation by June 2014, and since then the missions have continued and the costs have escalated.
The Australian government likened the chances of recovering the plane to like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Quite simply there are times where the size and power of the Pacific Ocean is too large for the most modern of today’s technology to overcome. There are still operations happening trying to locate the missing plane. The Ocean separates the Americas from Asia and Australia. At one point between Indonesia and Columbia the Oceans width reaches 12,300 miles which is more than half way around the world.
The Pacific Ocean was actually formed by the break-up of the super-continent Pangea, which contained all of today’s world’s continents. Around 175 million years ago plate tectonics resulted in the fracturing of the land mass and the creation of the new continents. With the land moving in different directions a huge void was left in the middle and this was the site for the Pacific Ocean. Today the Pacific Ocean is actually shrinking at a rate of 1.5 cm a year as certain plated are converging on each other. This is in complete contrast to what is happening in the Atlantic Ocean where the Ocean is widening as a result of the plates pulling away from each other.
The converging plates in the Pacific has created the Mariana trench, and this has produced a region of great seismic and volcanic activity. This tectonic activity that occurs has resulted in the area becoming known as the “Ring of Fire” and it covers a vast area. The Ring of Fire refers to an area that stretches for 40,000km in a horse shoe shape and is basically the outer boundary of the Pacific Ocean. Under the Ocean there are a number of plates moving in different directions. However at the outer edges of the Pacific Ocean the plates are nearly all being sub ducted under the other continental plates.
This results in the melting of the plates which forms volcanoes and also causes earthquakes. Of all of the volcanoes in the world today 75% are found in the Pacific region. The region is also responsible for 90 % of the world’s earthquakes. The volcanoes that still exist in the region today cause a major problem as many lie dormant. They are not active but could erupt at any time. The lava that flows from volcanoes produces rich agricultural soils and at times the slopes of volcanoes have attracted large populations. Monitoring the activity in these regions has become a priority for governments as they try to protect their citizens from these violent eruptions.