On the southeast shores of the United States resides the Gulf of Mexico, where it has been since it was formed by plate tectonics about 300 million years ago. First explored by Europeans in 1497, the gulf is surrounded by the United States on the north side, Mexico on the southwest side, and Cuba on the southeast side. The Yucatan Channel barriers the gulf and keeps its separate from the Caribbean Sean, while the Florida Straights separates the gulf from the Atlantic Ocean.
The water body covers about 600,000 square miles. On the western side of the gulf lies the deepest point, the Mexico Basin, of about 17,000 feet, which is about 10,000 feet greater than the average depth of about 6,500 feet. Numerous rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexico, draining a land nearly twice the size of the gulf itself. The Gulf of Mexico has an interesting history, and the gulf has been an area of human activity for thousands of years.
While it is used for recreation, the Gulf of Mexico has an issue ridden history surrounding its existence, with dilemmas involving pollution, earthquakes, and more. GeologyThere are multiple geological zones of the Gulf of Mexico, most predominantly the continental shelf, the continental slope, the abyssal plain, and the coastal zone. The continental shelf mostly surrounds the most exterior portions of the water body, with a width anywhere between 25 miles and 200 miles. This shelf is composed of mainly carbonate material, along with sand and clay.
Transitioning downward from the continental shelf is the continental slope, which leads to the major component of the gulf’s floor: the abyssal plain. Consisting of mostly flat territory, the plain has a rise of only about one foot over every 8,000 feet. Made up of lagoons, estuaries, populous beaches, and bays, the coastal zone is highly varied with its features. ClimateThroughout the winter season, the temperature of the surface water on the Gulf of Mexico stays within a fairly small range of somewhere between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Surprising, the temperatures of that same surface water are largely the same in the warmer seasons; however, the water has been recorded up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on occasion. Deeper into the water basin, the temperature is mostly around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The climate in the gulf coast region is mostly subtropical, consisting of humid days with very warm summer months. The Gulf of Mexico also is a target of generally at least on hurricane per year, with the hurricane season formally running from June 1st through November 30th each year.
Of note, a significantly disastrous hurricane occurred in the area in 2005, Hurricane Katrina. Resources and Recreation