Pacific Ocean

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Pacific Ocean
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{{short description|Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.}}{{pp-move-indef}}{{Redirect-multi|3|North Pacific|Pacific|Pacific region|the region in Colombia|Pacific Region, Colombia||North Pacific (disambiguation)|and|Pacific (disambiguation)}}{{Use American English|date=May 2017}}{{Use dmy dates|date=February 2018}}

165250000abbr=on}}4280abbr=on}}10911abbr=on}}710000000abbr=on}}| shore =List of islands in the Pacific Ocean>List of islands| trenches =Anchorage, Alaska>Anchorage, Auckland, Astoria, Oregon, Busan, Christchurch, Coos Bay, Oregon>Coos Bay, Guayaquil, Honolulu, Ilagan, Lima, Papeete, San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tijuana, Tokyo, Valparaíso Metro, Vancouver, Vladivostok}}{{Five oceans}}The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.At {{convert|165,250,000|km2|sp=us|abbr=off}} in area (as defined with an Antarctic southern border), this largest division of the World Ocean—and, in turn, the hydrosphere—covers about 46% of Earth's water surface and about one-third of its total surface area, making it larger than all of Earth's land area combined."Pacific Ocean". Britannica Concise. 2008: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. The centers of both the Water Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere are in the Pacific Ocean. The equator subdivides it into the North(ern) Pacific Ocean and South(ern) Pacific Ocean, with two exceptions: the Galápagos and Gilbert Islands, while straddling the equator, are deemed wholly within the South Pacific.JOURNAL, International Hydrographic Organization, 1953,weblink Limits of Oceans and Seas, Nature, 172, 4376, 484, 3rdbibcode=1953Natur.172R.484.4,000ftabbr=off}}.HTTPS://OCEANEXPLORER.NOAA.GOV/FACTS/PACIFIC-SIZE.HTML>TITLE=HOW BIG IS THE PACIFIC OCEAN?FIRST=US DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERICLANGUAGE=EN-USMariana Trench in the western North Pacific is the deepest point in the world, reaching a depth of {{convert>10,911ftabbr=off}}.HTTP://WEB-JAPAN.ORG/ATLAS/TECHNOLOGY/TEC03.HTML>TITLE=JAPAN ATLAS: JAPAN MARINE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER, 4 July 2007, The western Pacific has many peripheral seas.Though the peoples of Asia and Oceania have traveled the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times, the eastern Pacific was first sighted by Europeans in the early 16th century when Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513 and discovered the great "southern sea" which he named Mar del Sur (in Spanish). The ocean's current name was coined by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during the Spanish circumnavigation of the world in 1521, as he encountered favorable winds on reaching the ocean. He called it Mar Pacífico, which in both Portuguese and Spanish means "peaceful sea".WEB,weblink Catholic Encyclopedia : Ferdinand Magellan,, 1 October 1910, 31 October 2010,


Early migrations

File:Waldseemuller map 2.jpg|thumb|Universalis Cosmographia, the Waldseemüller map dated 1507, from a time when the nature of the Americas was ambiguous, particularly North America, as a possible part of Asia, was the first map to show the Americas separating two distinct oceans. South America was generally considered a "new world" and shows the name "America" for the first time, after Amerigo VespucciAmerigo VespucciFile:Carta universal en que se contiene todo lo que del mundo se ha descubierto fasta agora hizola Diego Ribero cosmographo de su magestad, ano de 1529, en Sevilla.jpg|thumb|left|Made in 1529, the Diogo RibeiroDiogo RibeiroFile:Ortelius - Maris Pacifici 1589.jpg|right|thumb|Maris Pacifici by Ortelius (1589). One of the first printed maps to show the Pacific OceanWEB,weblink Library Acquires Copy of 1507 Waldseemüller World Map – News Releases (Library of Congress),, 20 April 2013, ]]Important human migrations occurred in the Pacific in prehistoric times. About 3000 BC, the Austronesian peoples on the island of Taiwan mastered the art of long-distance canoe travel and spread themselves and their languages south to the Philippines, Indonesia, and maritime Southeast Asia; west towards Madagascar; southeast towards New Guinea and Melanesia (intermarrying with native Papuans); and east to the islands of Micronesia, Oceania and Polynesia.BOOK, Stanley, David, South Pacific,weblink 13 June 2013, 2004, David Stanley, 978-1-56691-411-6, 19, Long-distance trade developed all along the coast from Mozambique to Japan. Trade, and therefore knowledge, extended to the Indonesian islands but apparently not Australia. By at least 878 when there was a significant Islamic settlement in Canton much of this trade was controlled by Arabs or Muslims. In 219 BC Xu Fu sailed out into the Pacific searching for the elixir of immortality. From 1404 to 1433 Zheng He led expeditions into the Indian Ocean.

European exploration

(File:A generall chart of the South Sea ... NYPL481132.tiff|thumb|Map of the Pacific Ocean during European Exploration, circa 1702–1707.)(File:A compleat chart of the coast of Asia and America with the great South Sea - R.W. Seale del. et sculp. NYPL465242.tiff|thumb|Map of the Pacific Ocean during European Exploration, circa 1754.)The first contact of European navigators with the western edge of the Pacific Ocean was made by the Portuguese expeditions of António de Abreu and Francisco Serrão, via the Lesser Sunda Islands, to the Maluku Islands, in 1512,Hannard (1991), page 7BOOK, Milton, Giles, Giles Milton, Nathaniel's Nutmeg, Sceptre, 1999, London, 5, 7, 978-0-340-69676-7, and with Jorge Álvares's expedition to southern China in 1513,Porter, Jonathan. (1996). Macau, the Imaginary City: Culture and Society, 1557 to the Present. Westview Press. {{ISBN|0-8133-3749-6}} both ordered by Afonso de Albuquerque from Malacca.The east side of the ocean was discovered by Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513 after his expedition crossed the Isthmus of Panama and reached a new ocean.BOOK, Ober, Frederick Albion, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa,weblink 12 June 2013, Library of Alexandria, 978-1-4655-7034-5, 129, 2010, He named it Mar del Sur (literally, "Sea of the South" or "South Sea") because the ocean was to the south of the coast of the isthmus where he first observed the Pacific.(File:SpanishPacific.svg|thumb|upright=1.6|Spanish explorations and routes across the Pacific Ocean.)In 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailed the Pacific East to West on a Spanish expedition to the Spice Islands that would eventually result in the first world circumnavigation. Magellan called the ocean Pacífico (or "Pacific" meaning, "peaceful") because, after sailing through the stormy seas off Cape Horn, the expedition found calm waters. The ocean was often called the Sea of Magellan in his honor until the eighteenth century.Camino, Mercedes Maroto. Producing the Pacific: Maps and Narratives of Spanish Exploration (1567–1606), p. 76. 2005. Magellan stopped at one uninhabited Pacific island before stopping at Guam in March 1521.Guampedia entry on Ferdinand Magellan| url =weblink Magellan himself died in the Philippines in 1521, Spanish Basque navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano led the remains of the expedition back to Spain across the Indian Ocean and round the Cape of Good Hope, completing the first world circumnavigation in a single expedition in 1522."Life in the sea: Pacific Ocean", Oceanário de Lisboa. Retrieved 9 June 2013. Sailing around and east of the Moluccas, between 1525 and 1527, Portuguese expeditions discovered the Caroline Islands,BOOK, Galvano, Antonio, The Discoveries of the World from Their First Original Unto the Year of Our Lord 1555, issued by the Hakluyt Society, Kessinger Publishing, 1563, 2004,weblink 978-0-7661-9022-1, Galvano 1563, António Galvão, 16 June 2011, 168, the Aru Islands,BOOK, South East Asia, Colonial History: Imperialism before 1800, Volume 1 de South East Asia, Colonial History, Kratoska, Paul H., Taylor & Francis, 2001, 52–56, weblink and Papua New Guinea.BOOK
, Whiteway
, Richard Stephen
, The rise of Portuguese power in India, 1497–1550
, A. Constable
, 1899
, Westminster
weblink In 1542–43 the Portuguese also reached Japan.Steven Thomas, HTTP://BALAGAN.INFO/PORTUGUESE-IN-JAPAN PUBLISHER = STEVEN'S BALAGAN DATE = 2006-04-25, In 1564, five Spanish ships carrying 379 explorers crossed the ocean from Mexico led by Miguel López de Legazpi, and sailed to the Philippines and Mariana Islands.BOOK, Henderson, James D., Delpar, Helen, Brungardt, Maurice Philip, Weldon, Richard N., A Reference Guide to Latin American History,weblink 12 June 2013, 2000, M.E. Sharpe, 978-1-56324-744-6, 28, For the remainder of the 16th century, Spanish influence was paramount, with ships sailing from Mexico and Peru across the Pacific Ocean to the Philippines via Guam, and establishing the Spanish East Indies. The Manila galleons operated for two and a half centuries, linking Manila and Acapulco, in one of the longest trade routes in history. Spanish expeditions also discovered Tuvalu, the Marquesas, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, and the Admiralty Islands in the South Pacific.BOOK, Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe, Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration, 2006, W.W. Norton & Company, 978-0-393-06259-5, 305–307,weblink Later, in the quest for Terra Australis ("the [great] Southern Land"), Spanish explorations in the 17th century, such as the expedition led by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, discovered the Pitcairn and Vanuatu archipelagos, and sailed the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea, named after navigator Luís Vaz de Torres. Dutch explorers, sailing around southern Africa, also engaged in discovery and trade; Willem Janszoon, made the first completely documented European landing in Australia (1606), in Cape York Peninsula,J.P. Sigmond and L.H. Zuiderbaan (1979) Dutch Discoveries of Australia.Rigby Ltd, Australia. pp. 19–30 {{ISBN|0-7270-0800-5}} and Abel Janszoon Tasman circumnavigated and landed on parts of the Australian continental coast and discovered Tasmania and New Zealand in 1642.BOOK, Primary Australian History: Book F [B6] Ages 10–11,weblink 12 June 2013, 2008, R.I.C. Publications, 978-1-74126-688-7, 6, In the 16th and 17th centuries Spain considered the Pacific Ocean a mare clausum—a sea closed to other naval powers. As the only known entrance from the Atlantic, the Strait of Magellan was at times patrolled by fleets sent to prevent entrance of non-Spanish ships. On the western side of the Pacific Ocean the Dutch threatened the Spanish Philippines.{{Citation| last = Lytle Schurz| first = William| title = The Spanish Lake| journal = The Hispanic American Historical Review| volume = 5| issue = 2| date = 1922| pages = 181–194| jstor = 2506024}}The 18th century marked the beginning of major exploration by the Russians in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, such as the First Kamchatka expedition and the Great Northern Expedition, led by the Danish Russian navy officer Vitus Bering. Spain also sent expeditions to the Pacific Northwest, reaching Vancouver Island in southern Canada, and Alaska. The French explored and settled Polynesia, and the British made three voyages with James Cook to the South Pacific and Australia, Hawaii, and the North American Pacific Northwest. In 1768, Pierre-Antoine Véron, a young astronomer accompanying Louis Antoine de Bougainville on his voyage of exploration, established the width of the Pacific with precision for the first time in history.BOOK, Williams, Glyndwr, Captain Cook: Explorations And Reassessments,weblink 12 June 2013, 2004, Boydell Press, 978-1-84383-100-6, 143, One of the earliest voyages of scientific exploration was organized by Spain in the Malaspina Expedition of 1789–1794. It sailed vast areas of the Pacific, from Cape Horn to Alaska, Guam and the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific.

New Imperialism

{{See also|New Imperialism}}File:Trieste (23 Jan 1960).jpeg|thumb|The bathyscaphe Trieste, before her record dive to the bottom of the Mariana TrenchMariana TrenchGrowing imperialism during the 19th century resulted in the occupation of much of Oceania by European powers, and later Japan and the United States. Significant contributions to oceanographic knowledge were made by the voyages of HMS Beagle in the 1830s, with Charles Darwin aboard;NEWS,weblink Charles Darwin's Travels on the HMS Beagle, Marty, Christoph, Scientific American, 2018-03-23, en, HMS Challenger during the 1870s;WEB,weblink The Voyage of the HMS Challenger,, 2018-03-23, the USS Tuscarora (1873–76);BOOK,weblink A Synopsis of the Cruise of the U.S.S. "Tuscarora": From the Date of Her Commission to Her Arrival in San Francisco, Cal. Sept. 2d, 1874, 1874, Cosmopolitan printing Company, en, and the German Gazelle (1874–76).JOURNAL,weblink A Physical, Historical, Political, & Descriptive Geography, Nature, 22, 553, 95, Johnston, Keith, 1881, en, 1880Natur..22Q..95., 10.1038/022095a0, File:TahitiDupetitThouars.jpg|thumb|left|Dupetit Thouars taking over TahitiTahitiIn Oceania, France obtained a leading position as imperial power after making Tahiti and New Caledonia protectorates in 1842 and 1853 respectively.Bernard Eccleston, Michael Dawson. 1998. The Asia-Pacific Profile. Routledge. p. 250. After navy visits to Easter Island in 1875 and 1887, Chilean navy officer Policarpo Toro negotiated the incorporation of the island into Chile with native Rapanui in 1888. By occupying Easter Island, Chile joined the imperial nations.William Sater, Chile and the United States: Empires in Conflict, 1990 by the University of Georgia Press, {{ISBN|0-8203-1249-5}}{{rp|page=53}} By 1900 nearly all Pacific islands were in control of Britain, France, United States, Germany, Japan, and Chile.Although the United States gained control of Guam and the Philippines from Spain in 1898,BOOK, Tewari, Nita, Alvarez, Alvin N., Asian American Psychology: Current Perspectives,weblink 12 June 2013, 2008, CRC Press, 978-1-84169-749-9, 161, Japan controlled most of the western Pacific by 1914 and occupied many other islands during World War II. However, by the end of that war, Japan was defeated and the U.S. Pacific Fleet was the virtual master of the ocean. The Japanese-ruled Northern Mariana Islands came under control of the United States.The Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union With the United States of America, {{USStatute|94|241|90|263|1976|03|24}} Since the end of World War II, many former colonies in the Pacific have become independent states.


File:Iss007e10807.jpg|thumb|right|Sunset over the Pacific Ocean as seen from the International Space Station. Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible.]]The Pacific separates Asia and Australia from the Americas. It may be further subdivided by the equator into northern (North Pacific) and southern (South Pacific) portions. It extends from the Antarctic region in the South to the Arctic in the north. The Pacific Ocean encompasses approximately one-third of the Earth's surface, having an area of {{convert|165,200,000|km2|abbr=on}}—significantly larger than Earth's entire landmass of some {{convert|150,000,000|km2|abbr=on}}."Area of Earth's Land Surface", The Physics Factbook. Retrieved 9 June 2013.Extending approximately {{convert|15,500|km|abbr=on}} from the Bering Sea in the Arctic to the northern extent of the circumpolar Southern Ocean at 60°S (older definitions extend it to Antarctica's Ross Sea), the Pacific reaches its greatest east-west width at about 5°N latitude, where it stretches approximately {{convert|19,800|km|abbr=on}} from Indonesia to the coast of Colombia—halfway around the world, and more than five times the diameter of the Moon.BOOK, Nuttall, Mark, Encyclopedia of the Arctic: A-F,weblink 10 June 2013, 2005, Routledge, 978-1-57958-436-8, 1461, The lowest known point on Earth—the Mariana Trench—lies {{convert|10911|m|ft fathom|abbr=on|lk=out}} below sea level. Its average depth is {{convert|4,280|m|ft fathom|abbr=on}}, putting the total water volume at roughly {{convert|710,000,000|km3|cumi|abbr=on}}.Due to the effects of plate tectonics, the Pacific Ocean is currently shrinking by roughly {{convert|2.5|cm|in|0|abbr=on}} per year on three sides, roughly averaging {{convert|0.52|km2|sqmi|abbr=on}} a year. By contrast, the Atlantic Ocean is increasing in size."Plate Tectonics", Bucknell University. Retrieved 9 June 2013.BOOK, Young, Greg, Plate Tectonics,weblink 9 June 2013, 2009, Capstone, 978-0-7565-4232-0, 9–, Along the Pacific Ocean's irregular western margins lie many seas, the largest of which are the Celebes Sea, Coral Sea, East China Sea (East Sea), Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, South China Sea (South Sea), Sulu Sea, Tasman Sea, and Yellow Sea (West Sea of Korea). The Indonesian Seaway (including the Strait of Malacca and Torres Strait) joins the Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the west, and Drake Passage and the Strait of Magellan link the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean on the east. To the north, the Bering Strait connects the Pacific with the Arctic Ocean.JOURNAL, International Hydrographic Organization, Limits of Oceans and Seas, Nature, 172, 4376, 484,weblink 9 June 2013, 1953, 1953Natur.172R.484., 10.1038/172484b0, As the Pacific straddles the 180th meridian, the West Pacific (or western Pacific, near Asia) is in the Eastern Hemisphere, while the East Pacific (or eastern Pacific, near the Americas) is in the Western Hemisphere.BOOK, Agno, Lydia, Basic Geography,weblink 9 June 2013, 1998, Goodwill Trading Co., Inc., 978-971-11-0165-7, 25–, The Southern Pacific Ocean harbors the Southeast Indian Ridge crossing from south of Australia turning into the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge (north of the South Pole) and merges with another ridge (south of South America) to form the East Pacific Rise which also connects with another ridge (south of North America) which overlooks the Juan de Fuca Ridge.For most of Magellan's voyage from the Strait of Magellan to the Philippines, the explorer indeed found the ocean peaceful. However, the Pacific is not always peaceful. Many tropical storms batter the islands of the Pacific."Pacific Ocean: The trade winds", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013. The lands around the Pacific Rim are full of volcanoes and often affected by earthquakes.BOOK, Shirley Rousseau Murphy, The Ring of Fire, 1979, Avon (publisher), Avon, 978-0-380-47191-1, The Ring of Fire, Tsunamis, caused by underwater earthquakes, have devastated many islands and in some cases destroyed entire towns.BOOK, Bryant, Edward, Tsunami: The Underrated Hazard,weblink 9 June 2013, 2008, Springer, 978-3-540-74274-6, 26–, The Martin Waldseemüller map of 1507 was the first to show the Americas separating two distinct oceans.WEB, The Map That Named America,weblink, 3 December 2014, Later, the Diogo Ribeiro map of 1529 was the first to show the Pacific at about its proper size.{{Citation|last=Ribero|first=Diego|title=Carta universal en que se contiene todo lo que del mundo se ha descubierto fasta agora / hizola Diego Ribero cosmographo de su magestad, ano de 1529, e[n] Sevilla|date=|url=|publisher=W. Griggs|accessdate=30 September 2017}}

Bordering countries and territories

(File:Pacific Basin Island Geography.jpg|thumb|upright=1.25|The island geography of the Pacific Ocean Basin)File:Pacific Culture Areas.png|thumb|upright=1.25|Regions, island nations and territories of OceaniaOceania

Sovereign nations

{{div col|colwidth=20em}}
  • {{AUS}}
  • {{BRN}}
  • {{KHM}}
  • {{CAN}}
  • {{CHL}}
  • {{CHN}}1
  • {{COL}}
  • {{CRI}}
  • {{ECU}}
  • {{SLV}}
  • {{FSM}}
  • {{FIJ}}
  • {{GTM}}
  • {{HND}}
  • {{IDN}}
  • {{JAP}}
  • {{KIR}}
  • {{PRK}}
  • {{KOR}}
  • {{MYS}}
  • {{MHL}}
  • {{MEX}}
  • {{NRU}}
  • {{NIC}}
  • {{NZL}}
  • {{PLW}}
  • {{PAN}}
  • {{PNG}}
  • {{PER}}
  • {{PHL}}
  • {{RUS}}
  • {{WSM}}
  • {{SGP}}
  • {{SLB}}
  • {{TWN}}1
  • {{THA}}
  • {{TLS}}
  • {{TON}}
  • {{TUV}}
  • {{USA}}
  • {{VUT}}
  • {{VNM}}
{{div col end}}1 The status of Taiwan and China is disputed. For more information, see political status of Taiwan.


{{div col|colwidth=20em}} {{div col end}}

Landmasses and islands

File:South Tarawa from the air.jpg|thumb|Tarawa Atoll in the Republic of KiribatiKiribatiThis ocean has most of the islands in the world. There are about 25,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean.WEB, K, Harsh, This ocean has most of the islands in the world,weblink Mysticalroads, 6 April 2017, 19 March 2017, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2 August 2017, dmy-all, BOOK, Ishihara, Masahide, Hoshino, Eiichi, Fujita, Yoko, Self-determinable Development of Small Islands, 2016, Springer, 978-981-10-0132-1, 180,weblink en, BOOK, United States. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, Toward an Ecosystem Approach for the Western Pacific Region: from Species-based Fishery Management Plans to Place-based Fishery Ecosystem Plans: Environmental Impact Statement, 2009, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 60,weblink en, The islands entirely within the Pacific Ocean can be divided into three main groups known as Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Micronesia, which lies north of the equator and west of the International Date Line, includes the Mariana Islands in the northwest, the Caroline Islands in the center, the Marshall Islands to the east and the islands of Kiribati in the southeast.BOOK, Academic American encyclopedia,weblink 12 June 2013, 1997, Grolier Incorporated, 978-0-7172-2068-7, 8, BOOK, Lal, Brij Vilash, Fortune, Kate, The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia,weblink 14 June 2013, 2000, University of Hawaii Press, 978-0-8248-2265-1, 63–, Melanesia, to the southwest, includes New Guinea, the world's second largest island after Greenland and by far the largest of the Pacific islands. The other main Melanesian groups from north to south are the Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.BOOK, West, Barbara A., Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania,weblink 14 June 2013, 2009, Infobase Publishing, 978-1-4381-1913-7, 521–, The largest area, Polynesia, stretching from Hawaii in the north to New Zealand in the south, also encompasses Tuvalu, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga and the Kermadec Islands to the west, the Cook Islands, Society Islands and Austral Islands in the center, and the Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu, Mangareva Islands, and Easter Island to the east.BOOK, Dunford, Betty, Ridgell, Reilly, Pacific Neighbors: The Islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia,weblink 14 June 2013, 1996, Bess Press, 978-1-57306-022-6, 125–, Islands in the Pacific Ocean are of four basic types: continental islands, high islands, coral reefs and uplifted coral platforms. Continental islands lie outside the andesite line and include New Guinea, the islands of New Zealand, and the Philippines. Some of these islands are structurally associated with nearby continents. High islands are of volcanic origin, and many contain active volcanoes. Among these are Bougainville, Hawaii, and the Solomon Islands.BOOK, Gillespie, Rosemary G., Clague, David A., Encyclopedia of Islands,weblink 12 June 2013, 2009, University of California Press, 978-0-520-25649-1, 706, The coral reefs of the South Pacific are low-lying structures that have built up on basaltic lava flows under the ocean's surface. One of the most dramatic is the Great Barrier Reef off northeastern Australia with chains of reef patches. A second island type formed of coral is the uplifted coral platform, which is usually slightly larger than the low coral islands. Examples include Banaba (formerly Ocean Island) and Makatea in the Tuamotu group of French Polynesia."Coral island", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 22 June 2013."Nauru", Charting the Pacific. Retrieved 22 June 2013.File:Ladrilleros Beach Colombia.jpg|Ladrilleros Beach in Colombia on the coast of Chocó natural regionFile:Chimney Rock Trail Point Reyes December 2016 panorama.jpg|Point Reyes headlands, Point Reyes National Seashore, CaliforniaFile:Tahuna maru islet Raroia.jpg|Tahuna maru islet, French PolynesiaFile:Los Molinos.JPG|Los Molinos on the coast of Southern Chile

Water characteristics

File:Sunset Marina.JPG|thumb|right|Sunset in Monterey County, CaliforniaMonterey County, CaliforniaThe volume of the Pacific Ocean, representing about 50.1 percent of the world's oceanic water, has been estimated at some {{convert|714|e6km3|e6cumi|sp=us|abbr=off}}.WEB,weblink – The Pacific WildLife Foundation – The Pacific Ocean, 23 August 2013, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 21 April 2012, Surface water temperatures in the Pacific can vary from {{convert|-1.4|°C|°F|abbr=on}}, the freezing point of sea water, in the poleward areas to about {{convert|30|°C|°F|abbr=on}} near the equator.BOOK, Mongillo, John F., Encyclopedia of Environmental Science,weblink 9 June 2013, 2000, University Rochester Press, 978-1-57356-147-1, 255–, Salinity also varies latitudinally, reaching a maximum of 37 parts per thousand in the southeastern area. The water near the equator, which can have a salinity as low as 34 parts per thousand, is less salty than that found in the mid-latitudes because of abundant equatorial precipitation throughout the year. The lowest counts of less than 32 parts per thousand are found in the far north as less evaporation of seawater takes place in these frigid areas."Pacific Ocean: Salinity", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013. The motion of Pacific waters is generally clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere (the North Pacific gyre) and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. The North Equatorial Current, driven westward along latitude 15°N by the trade winds, turns north near the Philippines to become the warm Japan or Kuroshio Current."Wind Driven Surface Currents: Equatorial Currents Background", Ocean Motion. Retrieved 9 June 2013.Turning eastward at about 45°N, the Kuroshio forks and some water moves northward as the Aleutian Current, while the rest turns southward to rejoin the North Equatorial Current."Kuroshio", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013. The Aleutian Current branches as it approaches North America and forms the base of a counter-clockwise circulation in the Bering Sea. Its southern arm becomes the chilled slow, south-flowing California Current."Aleutian Current", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013. The South Equatorial Current, flowing west along the equator, swings southward east of New Guinea, turns east at about 50°S, and joins the main westerly circulation of the South Pacific, which includes the Earth-circling Antarctic Circumpolar Current. As it approaches the Chilean coast, the South Equatorial Current divides; one branch flows around Cape Horn and the other turns north to form the Peru or Humboldt Current."South Equatorial Current", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 June 2013.


(File:El nino north american weather.png|thumb|right|upright=1.15|Impact of El Niño and La Niña on North America)File:Typhoon tip peak.jpg|thumb|right|Typhoon TipTyphoon TipThe climate patterns of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres generally mirror each other. The trade winds in the southern and eastern Pacific are remarkably steady while conditions in the North Pacific are far more varied with, for example, cold winter temperatures on the east coast of Russia contrasting with the milder weather off British Columbia during the winter months due to the preferred flow of ocean currents."Pacific Ocean: Islands", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 13 June 2013.In the tropical and subtropical Pacific, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) affects weather conditions. To determine the phase of ENSO, the most recent three-month sea surface temperature average for the area approximately {{convert|3000|km|mi|abbr=on}} to the southeast of Hawaii is computed, and if the region is more than {{convert|0.5|C-change|1}} above or below normal for that period, then an El Niño or La Niña is considered in progress.WEB,weblink ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions, 5, 19–20, Climate Prediction Center, Climate Prediction Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 30 June 2014, 30 June 2014, In the tropical western Pacific, the monsoon and the related wet season during the summer months contrast with dry winds in the winter which blow over the ocean from the Asian landmass.Glossary of Meteorology (2009). Monsoon. {{webarchive|url= |date=22 March 2008 }} American Meteorological Society. Retrieved on 16 January 2009. Worldwide, tropical cyclone activity peaks in late summer, when the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures is the greatest. However, each particular basin has its own seasonal patterns. On a worldwide scale, May is the least active month, while September is the most active month. November is the only month in which all the tropical cyclone basins are active.WEB, Frequently Asked Questions: When is hurricane season?, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 25 July 2006,weblink vanc, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory – Hurricane Research Division, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, The Pacific hosts the two most active tropical cyclone basins, which are the northwestern Pacific and the eastern Pacific. Pacific hurricanes form south of Mexico, sometimes striking the western Mexican coast and occasionally the southwestern United States between June and October, while typhoons forming in the northwestern Pacific moving into southeast and east Asia from May to December. Tropical cyclones also form in the South Pacific basin, where they occasionally impact island nations.In the arctic, icing from October to May can present a hazard for shipping while persistent fog occurs from June to December."Pacific Ocean", World Factbook, CIA. Retrieved 13 June 2013. A climatological low in the Gulf of Alaska keeps the southern coast wet and mild during the winter months. The Westerlies and associated jet stream within the Mid-Latitudes can be particularly strong, especially in the Southern Hemisphere, due to the temperature difference between the tropics and Antarctica,John P. Stimac. Air pressure and wind. Retrieved on 8 May 2008. which records the coldest temperature readings on the planet. In the Southern hemisphere, because of the stormy and cloudy conditions associated with extratropical cyclones riding the jet stream, it is usual to refer to the Westerlies as the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Shrieking Sixties according to the varying degrees of latitude.BOOK, Walker, Stuart, The sailor's wind, W.W. Norton & Company, 1998, 91, 978-0-393-04555-0,weblink


File:Pacific Ring of Fire.svg|thumb|right|upright=1.25|Ring of Fire. The Pacific is ringed by many volcanoes and oceanic trenchoceanic trenchFile:Ulawun.jpg|thumb|Ulawun stratovolcano situated on the island of New Britain, Papua New GuineaPapua New GuineaThe ocean was first mapped by Abraham Ortelius; he called it Maris Pacifici following Ferdinand Magellan's description of it as "a pacific sea" during his circumnavigation from 1519 to 1522. To Magellan, it seemed much more calm (pacific) than the Atlantic.BOOK, Turnbull, Alexander, Map New Zealand: 100 Magnificent Maps from the Collection of the Alexander Turnbull Library,weblink 10 June 2013, 2006, Godwit, 978-1-86962-126-1, 8, The andesite line is the most significant regional distinction in the Pacific. A petrologic boundary, it separates the deeper, mafic igneous rock of the Central Pacific Basin from the partially submerged continental areas of felsic igneous rock on its margins.BOOK, Trent, D. D., Hazlett, Richard, Bierman, Paul, Geology and the Environment,weblink 10 June 2013, 2010, Cengage Learning, 978-0-538-73755-5, 133, The andesite line follows the western edge of the islands off California and passes south of the Aleutian arc, along the eastern edge of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands, Japan, the Mariana Islands, the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand's North Island.BOOK, Lal, Brij Vilash, Fortune, Kate, The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia,weblink 10 June 2013, 2000, University of Hawaii Press, 978-0-8248-2265-1, 4, BOOK, Mueller-Dombois, Dieter, Vegetation of the Tropical Pacific Islands,weblink 10 June 2013, 1998, Springer, 978-0-387-98313-4, 13, The dissimilarity continues northeastward along the western edge of the Andes Cordillera along South America to Mexico, returning then to the islands off California. Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, New Guinea, and New Zealand lie outside the andesite line.Within the closed loop of the andesite line are most of the deep troughs, submerged volcanic mountains, and oceanic volcanic islands that characterize the Pacific basin. Here basaltic lavas gently flow out of rifts to build huge dome-shaped volcanic mountains whose eroded summits form island arcs, chains, and clusters. Outside the andesite line, volcanism is of the explosive type, and the Pacific Ring of Fire is the world's foremost belt of explosive volcanism. The Ring of Fire is named after the several hundred active volcanoes that sit above the various subduction zones.The Pacific Ocean is the only ocean which is almost totally bounded by subduction zones. Only the Antarctic and Australian coasts have no nearby subduction zones.

Geological history

The Pacific Ocean was born 750 million years ago at the breakup of Rodinia, although it is generally called the Panthalassic Ocean until the breakup of Pangea, about 200 million years ago.WEB,weblink GEOL 102 The Proterozoic Eon II: Rodinia and Pannotia,, 5 January 2010, 31 October 2010, The oldest Pacific Ocean floor is only around 180 Ma old, with older crust subducted by now.BOOK, Mussett, Alan E., Khan, M. Aftab, Looking Into the Earth: An Introduction to Geological Geophysics,weblink 10 June 2013, 2000, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-78574-7, 332,

Seamount chains

The Pacific Ocean contains several long seamount chains, formed by hotspot volcanism. These include the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain and the Louisville Ridge.


The exploitation of the Pacific's mineral wealth is hampered by the ocean's great depths. In shallow waters of the continental shelves off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, petroleum and natural gas are extracted, and pearls are harvested along the coasts of Australia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Philippines, although in sharply declining volume in some cases."Pacific Ocean: Fisheries", Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 12 June 2013.


Fish are an important economic asset in the Pacific. The shallower shoreline waters of the continents and the more temperate islands yield herring, salmon, sardines, snapper, swordfish, and tuna, as well as shellfish."Pacific Ocean: Commerce and Shipping", The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th edition. Retrieved 14 June 2013. Overfishing has become a serious problem in some areas. For example, catches in the rich fishing grounds of the Okhotsk Sea off the Russian coast have been reduced by at least half since the 1990s as a result of overfishing."Pacific Ocean Threats & Impacts: Overfishing and Exploitation" {{webarchive|url= |date=12 May 2013 }}, Center for Ocean Solutions. Retrieved 14 June 2013.

Environmental issues

{{See also|Great Pacific garbage patch|Environmental impact of shipping}}(File:Pacific-garbage-patch-map 2010 noaamdp.jpg|thumb|Pacific ocean currents have created 3 "islands" of debris.WEB,weblink Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Marine Debris Division – Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA, live,weblink 17 April 2014, dmy-all, 2013-07-11, )File:Marine debris on Hawaiian coast.jpg|thumb|Marine debris on a HawaiiHawaiiThe quantity of small plastic fragments floating in the north-east Pacific Ocean increased a hundredfold between 1972 and 2012.Plastic waste in the North Pacific is an ongoing concern BBC 9 May 2012 The ever-growing Great Pacific garbage patch between California and Japan is three times the size of France.NEWS, 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' is massive floating island of plastic, now 3 times the size of France,weblink ABC News, 23 March 2018, An estimated 80,000 metric tons of plastic inhabit the patch, totaling 1.8 trillion pieces.NEWS, ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’ 16 times bigger than previously thought, say scientists,weblink The Independent, 23 March 2018, Marine pollution is a generic term for the harmful entry into the ocean of chemicals or particles. The main culprits are those using the rivers for disposing of their waste.WEB,weblink Photos: Giant Ocean-Trash Vortex Documented – A First,, 31 October 2010, 2009-09-04, The rivers then empty into the ocean, often also bringing chemicals used as fertilizers in agriculture. The excess of oxygen-depleting chemicals in the water leads to hypoxia and the creation of a dead zone.Gerlach: Marine Pollution, Springer, Berlin (1975) Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human-created waste that has ended up floating in a lake, sea, ocean, or waterway. Oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the center of gyres and coastlines, frequently washing aground where it is known as beach litter.From 1946 to 1958, Marshall Islands served as the Pacific Proving Grounds for the United States and was the site of 67 nuclear tests on various atolls.WEB,weblink Marshall Islands marks 71 years since start of US nuclear tests on Bikini, 2017-03-01, Radio New Zealand, en-nz, WEB, Renee, Lewis, Bikinians evacuated 'for good of mankind' endure lengthy nuclear fallout,weblink Al-Jazeera, 28 July 2015, Several nuclear weapons were lost in the Pacific Ocean,NEWS, Thaler, Andrew David, How many nuclear weapons are at the bottom of the sea. An (almost certainly incomplete) census of broken arrows over water.,weblink Southern Fried Science, 26 July 2018, including one-megaton bomb lost during the 1965 Philippine Sea A-4 incident.NEWS, U.S. discloses accidents involving nuclear weapons, Richard Halloran, The New York Times, May 26, 1981,weblink In addition, the Pacific Ocean has served as the crash site of satellites, including Mars 96, Fobos-Grunt, and Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite.

Major ports and harbors

See also

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Further reading

  • BOOK, Barkley, Richard A., Oceanographic Atlas of the Pacific Ocean, 1968, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu,
  • BOOK, Blue Horizons: Paradise Isles of the Pacific, 1985, National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, 978-0-87044-544-6, prepared by the Special Publications Division, National Geographic Society.,
  • BOOK, Cameron, Ian, Lost Paradise: The Exploration of the Pacific, 1987, Salem House, Topsfield, MA, 978-0-88162-275-1,weblink
  • BOOK, Couper, A.D. (ed.), Development and Social Change in the Pacific Islands, 1989, Routledge, London, 978-0-415-00917-1,
  • BOOK, Gilbert, John, Charting the Vast Pacific, 1971, Aldus, London, 978-0-490-00226-5,
  • BOOK, Lower, J. Arthur, Ocean of Destiny: A Concise History of the North Pacific, 1500–1978, 1978, University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, 978-0-7748-0101-0,weblink
  • BOOK, Napier, W., Gilbert, J., Holland, J., Pacific Voyages, 1973, Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 978-0-385-04335-9,
  • BOOK, Nunn, Patrick D., Pacific Island Landscapes: Landscape and Geological Development of Southwest Pacific Islands, Especially Fiji, Samoa and Tonga,weblink 1998,, 978-982-02-0129-3,
  • BOOK, Oliver, Douglas L., The Pacific Islands, 1989, 3rd, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 978-0-8248-1233-1,
  • Paine, Lincoln. The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (2015).
  • BOOK, Ridgell, Reilly, Pacific Nations and Territories: The Islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia, 1988, 2nd, Bess Press, Honolulu, 978-0-935848-50-2,
  • Samson, Jane. British imperial strategies in the Pacific, 1750–1900 (Ashgate Publishing, 2003).
  • BOOK, Soule, Gardner, The Greatest Depths: Probing the Seas to {{convert, 20000, ft, m, and Below|year=1970|publisher=Macrae Smith|location=Philadelphia|isbn=978-0-8255-8350-6|url=}}
  • BOOK, Spate, O.H.K., Paradise Found and Lost, 1988, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 978-0-8166-1715-9,
  • BOOK, Terrell, John, Prehistory in the Pacific Islands: A Study of Variation in Language, Customs, and Human Biology, 1986, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 978-0-521-30604-1,


  • Davidson, James Wightman. "Problems of Pacific history." Journal of Pacific History 11 (1966): 5–21.
  • Gulliver, Katrina. "Finding the Pacific world." Journal of World History 221 (2011): 83–100. online{{dead link|date=October 2017}}
  • BOOK, Igler, David, The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush, 2013, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-991495-1,
  • Munro, Doug. The Ivory Tower and Beyond: Participant Historians of the Pacific (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).
  • Routledge, David. "Pacific history as seen from the Pacific Islands." Pacific Studies 82 (1985): 81+ weblink" title="">online
  • Samson, Jane. "Pacific/Oceanic History" in BOOK, Kelly Boyd, ed., Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing vol 2,weblink 1999, Taylor & Francis, 901–02, 978-1-884964-33-6,

External links

{{Commons category|Pacific Ocean}}{{Wiktionary}}
  • weblink" title="">EPIC Pacific Ocean Data Collection Viewable on-line collection of observational data
  • weblink" title="">NOAA In-situ Ocean Data Viewer plot and download ocean observations
  • weblink" title="">NOAA PMEL Argo profiling floats Realtime Pacific Ocean data
  • NOAA TAO El Niño data Realtime Pacific Ocean El Niño buoy data
  • weblink" title="">NOAA Ocean Surface Current Analyses – Realtime (OSCAR) Near-realtime Pacific Ocean Surface Currents derived from satellite altimeter and scatterometer data
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