What is the Continental Shelf?

It is the part of the continent that extends into the sea with no significant slope and with shallow waters over it.

Two important terms are usually used in describing the continental shelf: The Shelf Break and the Continental Slope.

The shelf break is the drop-off point where the deep sea begins. The Slope is the part that comes after the break, linking the break to the ocean floor. The depth of the water on the continental shelf is about 60M (200ft).

The continental Shelf
The Continental Shelf

Continental shelves are important because they are considered to be the boundary of the continents and not the visible part of the coastline. Because the shelf is covered by shallow waters, there is enough sunlight penetration and that makes it a great condition for many organisms (plant and animals)

Continental shelves are usually formed from the deposits of weathered coastal landforms and also from sediments deposited by rivers it feeds from. Over many years, dead weeds and animals also settle down the bed and become part of the shelf.