The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans with a total area of about 106,460,000 square kilometres (41,100,000 sq mi). It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".
The Atlantic Ocean occupies an elongated, S-shaped basin extending longitudinally between Eurasia and Africa to the east, and the Americas to the west. As one component of the interconnected global ocean, it is connected in the north to the Arctic Ocean, to the Pacific Ocean in the southwest, the Indian Ocean in the southeast, and the Southern Ocean in the south (other definitions describe the Atlantic as extending southward to Antarctica). The Equatorial Counter Current subdivides it into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean at about 8°N.
Scientific explorations of the Atlantic include the Challenger expedition, the German Meteor expedition, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the United States Navy Hydrographic Office
The oldest known mentions of an "Atlantic" sea are in Stesichorus around mid-sixth century BC (Sch. A. R. 1. 211): Atlantikoi pel?gei (English: 'the Atlantic sea'; etym. 'Sea of Atlantis') and in The Histories of Herodotus around 450 BC (Hdt. 1.202.4): Atlantis thalassa (English: 'Sea of Atlantis' or 'the Atlantis sea' ) where the name refers to "the sea beyond the pillars of Heracles" which is said to be part of the ocean that surrounds all land. Thus, on one hand, the name refers to Atlas, the Titan of Greek mythology, who supported the heavens and who later appeared as a frontispiece in Medieval maps and also lent his name to modern atlases. On the other hand, to early Greek sailors and in Ancient Greek mythological literature such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, this all-encompassing ocean was instead known as Oceanus, the gigantic river that encircled the world; in contrast to the enclosed seas well-known to the Greeks: the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In contrast, the term "Atlantic" originally referred specifically to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the sea off the Strait of Gibraltar and the North African coast. The Greek word thalassa has been reused by scientists for the huge Panthalassa ocean that surrounded the supercontinent Pangaea hundreds of million years ago
The Atlantic Ocean is bounded on the west by North and South America. It connects to the Arctic Ocean through the Denmark Strait, Greenland Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea. To the east, the boundaries of the ocean proper are Europe: the Strait of Gibraltar (where it connects with the Mediterranean Sea–one of its marginal seas–and, in turn, the Black Sea, both of which also touch upon Asia) and Africa.
In the southeast, the Atlantic merges into the Indian Ocean. The 20° East meridian, running south from Cape Agulhas to Antarctica defines its border. In the 1953 definition it extends south to Antarctica, while in later maps it is bounded at the 60° parallel by the Southern Ocean.
The Atlantic has irregular coasts indented by numerous bays, gulfs, and seas. These include the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, part of the Drake Passage, Gulf of Mexico, Labrador Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, almost all of the Scotia Sea, and other tributary water bodies. Including these marginal seas the coast line of the Atlantic measures 111,866 km (69,510 mi) compared to 135,663 km (84,297 mi) for the Pacific
The MAR rises 2–3 km (1.2–1.9 mi) above the surrounding ocean floor and its rift valley is the divergent boundary between the North American and Eurasian plates in the North Atlantic and the South American and African plates in the South Atlantic. The MAR produces basaltic volcanoes in Eyjafjallaj?kull, Iceland, and pillow lava on the ocean floor. The depth of water at the apex of the ridge is less than 2,700 metres (1,500 fathoms; 8,900 ft) in most places, while the bottom of the ridge is three times as deep.
The MAR is intersected by two perpendicular ridges: the Azores–Gibraltar Transform Fault, the boundary between the Nubian and Eurasian plates, intersects the MAR at the Azores Triple Junction, on either side of the Azores microplate, near the 40°N. A much vaguer, nameless boundary, between the North American and South American plates, intersects the MAR near or just north of the Fifteen-Twenty Fracture Zone, approximately at 16°N
Continental shelves in the Atlantic are wide off Newfoundland, southern-most South America, and north-eastern Europe. In the western Atlantic carbonate platforms dominate large areas, for example the Blake Plateau and Bermuda Rise. The Atlantic is surrounded by passive margins except at a few locations where active margins form deep trenches: the Puerto Rico Trench (8,414 m (27,605 ft) maximum depth) in the western Pacific and South Sandwich Trench (8,264 m (27,113 ft)) in the South Atlantic. There are numerous submarine canyons off north-eastern North America, western Europe, and north-western Africa. Some of these canyons extend along the continental rises and farther into the abyssal plains as deep-sea channels.
In 1922 a historic moment in cartography and oceanography occurred. The USS Stewart used a Navy Sonic Depth Finder to draw a continuous map across the bed of the Atlantic. This involved little guesswork because the idea of sonar is straight forward with pulses being sent from the vessel, which bounce off the ocean floor, then return to the vessel. The deep ocean floor is thought to be fairly flat with occasional deeps, abyssal plains, trenches, seamounts, basins, plateaus, canyons, and some guyots. Various shelves along the margins of the continents constitute about 11% of the bottom topography with few deep channels cut across the continental rise.
The mean depth between 60°N and 60°S is 3,730 m (12,240 ft), or close to the average for the global ocean, with a modal depth between 4,000 and 5,000 m (13,000 and 16,000 ft).
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