Gulf of California

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An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck the Gulf of California recently.

About Gulf of California:

  • The Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortez is a large inlet of the eastern Pacific Ocean along the northwestern coast of Mexico
  • It separates the mountainous Lower California Peninsula/Baja California Peninsula in the west from the states of Sonora and Sinaloa on the mainland of Mexico in the east.
  • Geography:
    • It covers an area of 160,000 sq. km and has a long coastline of approximately 4,000km. 
    • It is about 1,126km long and has a maximum width ranging between 48 to 241km. 
    • The Gulf is divided into two portions and is separated by a narrowing that is marked by the islands of Tiburón and Angel de la Guarda.
    • The northern portion is relatively shallow, with a mean depth of 180m, while the southern portion contains many depressions and the deepest of these depressions reaches a maximum depth of over 3,000m. 
    • The head of the gulf is dominated by the large Colorado River Delta through which the Colorado River drains into the Gulf.
    • The long coastline of the gulf is extremely irregular and forms numerous small bays. 
  • Geology: The Gulf of California was created around 5.3 million years ago due to the movement of tectonic plates that separated the Baja California Peninsula from the North American Plate. 
  • Islands:
    • There are about 37 major islands in the Gulf of California that is mostly located on its western side.
    • It is believed that these islands were created due to volcanic eruptions and several of these islands are home to volcanoes.
    • Some of the major islands include the Isla Ángel de la Guarda, Isla Tiburón, Islas Marías, Isla Partida, Islas San Francisco, Isla Coronados, etc.
  • Climate: Due to the presence of an uninterrupted chain of mountains on the Baja California Peninsula, the Gulf of California experiences a ‘continental’ climate rather than an ‘oceanic’ climate.


Q1) What is a Gulf?

The Gulf is a portion of the sea that is almost surrounded by land except one narrow opening. Gulfs are formed when a giant rock collapses or when a piece of land sinks. This causes a big indentation in the area, and the water eventually fills it up. Gulfs are also formed through a natural process of erosion.

Source: Earthquake of magnitude 6.4 jolts Gulf of California, no damage reported