The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest ocean on Earth. It spans 60 million square miles from California to China, and in certain regions extends tens of thousands of feet below the surface of the water.

To get a sense of just how immense the Pacific Ocean is, you could put all of Earth’s landmasses together, and the Pacific would still be larger.

The name Pacific is a version of pacify or peaceful. It was named by the explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520 as he sailed through a calm patch of water on the ocean. Despite its name, the Pacific is a vast body of water teeming with activity. Much of the ocean is still waiting to be explored, but human activities like industrial fishing, deep-sea mining, and fossil-fuel burning are already changing it in significant ways. The vast body of water is home to some of the most unique life forms on Earth and contains the deepest reaches known to humankind.

Here’s a look at some key features of this great ocean, as well as issues affecting it.

Birthing hurricanes

The Pacific Ocean stirs up some of the strongest hurricanes ever seen. For example, in 2018 the strongest storm of the year was Super Typhoon Mangkhut. It hit the Philippines in late September before dissipating over mainland China. At its strongest, the storm’s winds topped 165 miles per hour, uprooting trees, destroying homes, and causing deadly mudslides.

Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones are actually different names for the same weather pattern. Hurricane is used in the eastern Pacific, typhoon in the northwestern Pacific, and cyclone in the southwestern Pacific. The storms feed on the energy of warm water, making the Pacific a powerful breeding ground for them.

The Ring of Fire

The Pacific basin is called the “Ring of Fire” because of the area of earthquake and volcanic activity around its edges. The resulting chain of volcanoes is roughly 25,000 miles long and springs to life where the Pacific tectonic plate slides against or collides into the other tectonic plates that circle it. The subduction of tectonic plates—when a plate slides beneath another one—in certain areas also helps form deepwater trenches.

John Doe – 2020

The Mariana Trench

The Mariana Trench is one such deep ocean trench that sits along the Ring of Fire in the Mariana Archipelago east of the Philippines. It’s the deepest known spot on the planet—deeper than Mt. Everest is tall, reaching down roughly seven miles. The deepest point in the trench is called Challenger Deep, at 36,000 feet down.

Ordered list

  1. Burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide.
  2. Oceans, which absorb about 30 percent of the CO2
  3. From 2014 to 2016, a warm weather anomaly often referred

Un-ordered list

  • Burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide.
  • Oceans, which absorb about 30 percent of the CO2
  • From 2014 to 2016, a warm weather anomaly often referred

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Between Hawaii and California is an area larger than the state of Texas that has been dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Though the name may conjure up a massive island of plastic jutting out of the sea, 94 percent of the plastics found in the patch are actually microplastics—tiny pieces of plastic smaller than a grain of rice and often impossible to see with the naked eye. Much of the heaviest plastic found in the patch is abandoned fishing gear, often referred to as “ghost nets.” Ghost nets threaten marine life because they can easily ensnare animals swimming by.