Zhemchug Canyon is a giant underwater canyon located in the middle of the Bering Sea. This submarine canyon is the largest canyon in the ocean. The canyon has a vertical relief of 2600 metres dropping from the shallow shelf the Bering Sea to the depths of the Aleutian Basin. Zhemchug Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon. Zhemchug Canyon has two main branches, each larger than typical continental margin canyons such as the Monterey Canyon.
What makes the Zhemchug Canyon the largest canyon in the world is not only its great depth, but its large cross-sectional area. Zhemchug Canyon is the largest submarine canyon in the world, based on drainage area (11,350 km2) and volume (5800 km3).
Zhemchug Canyon is important habitat for many species of ocean wildlife. The endangered short-tailed albatross congregates to feed over the surface waters of the canyon. Marine mammals such as northern fur seals feed in the canyon as do many species of whales. Habitat-forming invertebrates such as bubblegum coral, bamboo coral, soft corals, Hexactinellid sponges, and other sponges have been identified during trawl surveys in the canyon. It is where the opilio (snow) crab and bairdi crab can be found.
- Normark, W.R. and Carlson, P.R., 2003, Giant submarine canyons: Is size any clue to their importance in the rock record? in Chan, M.A., and Archer, A.W., eds., Extreme depositional environments: Mega end members in geologic time: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America Special Paper 370, p. 1–15
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