Sailing Guide

Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico

Characteristics

Description

The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world. The shape of its basin is roughly oval and approximately 810 nautical miles (1,500 km) wide and filled with sedimentary rocks and debris. Tidal ranges are extremely small due to the narrow connection with the ocean. 

Considered a smaller part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is an ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba.

It is part of the Atlantic Ocean through the Florida Straits between the U.S. and Cuba, and with the Caribbean Sea (with which it forms the American Mediterranean Sea) via the Yucatan Channel between Mexico and Cuba.

Today, there are 7 main areas of the gulf:
Gulf of Mexico Basin, which contains the Sigsbee Deep and can be further divided into the continental rise, the Sigsbee Abyssal Plain, and the Mississippi Cone.

Northeast Gulf of Mexico, which extends from just east of the Mississippi Delta near Biloxi to the eastern side of Apalachee Bay.
South Florida Continental Shelf and Slope, which extends along the coast from Apalachee Bay to the Straits of Florida and includes the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas.
Campeche Bank, which extends from the Yucatan Straits in the east to the Tabasco-Campeche Basin in the west and includes Arrecife Alacran.

Bay of Campeche, which is an isthmian embayment extending from the western edge of Campeche Bank to the offshore regions just east of the port of Veracruz.

Western Gulf of Mexico, which is located between Veracruz to the south and the Rio Grande to the north.

Northwest Gulf of Mexico, which extends from Alabama to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Gulf of Mexico's eastern, north, and northwestern shores lie along the US states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
The US portion of the Gulf coastline spans 1,680 miles (2,700 km), receiving water from thirty-three major rivers that drain 31 states. The Gulf's southwestern and southern shores lie along the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, and the northernmost tip of Quintana Roo. The Mexican portion of the Gulf coastline spans 1,394 miles (2,243 km). On its southeast quadrant the Gulf is bordered by Cuba. It supports major American, Mexican and Cuban fishing industries. The outer margins of the wide continental shelves of Yucatán and Florida receive cooler, nutrient-enriched waters from the deep by a process known as upwelling, which stimulates plankton growth in the euphotic zone. This attracts fish, shrimp, and squid. River drainage and atmospheric fallout from industrial coastal cities also provide nutrients to the coastal zone.

The Bay of Campeche in Mexico constitutes a major arm of the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the gulf's shoreline is fringed by numerous bays and smaller inlets. A number of rivers empty into the gulf, most notably the Mississippi River in the northern gulf, and the Grijalva and Usumacinta Rivers in the southern gulf. The land that forms the gulf's coast, including many long, narrow barrier islands, is almost uniformly low-lying and is characterized by marshes and swamps as well as stretches of sandy beach. The Gulf of Mexico is an excellent example of a passive margin. The continental shelf is quite wide at most points along the coast, most notably at the Florida and Yucatán Peninsulas.

The principal points and harbor entrances are marked by lights, which are the chief guides for approaching or standing along the coast.

CURRENTS:


The Gulf Stream, a warm Atlantic Ocean current and one of the strongest ocean currents known, originates in the gulf, as a continuation of the Caribbean Current-Yucatán Current-Loop Current system. Other circulation features include the anticyclonic gyres which are shed by the Loop Current and travel westward where they eventually dissipate, and a permanent cyclonic gyre in the Bay of Campeche.

HURRICANES AND EARTHQUAKES:


The gulf's warm water temperature can feed powerful Atlantic hurricanes causing extensive human death and other destruction as happened with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the Atlantic, a hurricane will draw up cool water from the depths and making it less likely that further hurricanes will follow in its wake (warm water being one of the preconditions necessary for their formation). However, the Gulf is shallower and its entire water column is warm. When a hurricane passes over, although the water temperature may drop it soon rebounds and becomes capable of supporting another tropical storm.

The Gulf is considered aseismic: however, mild tremors have been recorded throughout history (usually 5.0 or less on the Richter scale). A 6.0 tremor was recorded on September 10, 2006, 250 miles (400 km) off the coast of Florida which caused no damage, but could be felt throughout the Southeastern United States. No damage or injuries were reported.
Earthquakes such as this may be caused by interactions between sediment loading on the sea floor and adjustment by the crust.

6/04/2012
Update
JB
Les principaux pays qui bordent le golfe du Mexique sont :

  • Le Mexique à l'ouest et au sud ;
  • L'île de Cuba au sud-est ;
  • les États-Unis au nord-est et au nord.

Le golfe du Mexique communique au sud-est avec la mer des Caraïbes par le canal du Yucatán et à l'est avec l'océan Atlantique par le détroit de Floride.

Les côtes est, nord et nord-est du golfe s'étendent le long des États de Floride, d'Alabama, du Mississippi, de Louisiane et du Texas. Cette ligne côtière s'étend sur 2 700 km et reçoit les eaux de 33 fleuves majeurs ayant traversé 31 États. Les côtes du sud et du sud-ouest s'étendent le long des États mexicains de Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán et de Quintana Roo. Au sud-est se retrouve l'île de Cuba.

Le littoral du golfe est truffé de nombreuses petites baies et criques. De nombreux fleuves s'y jettent, et plus particulièrement le fleuve Mississippi dans le nord du golfe, ainsi que le ríosi que de plages de sable. Le golfe du Mexique est un excellent exemple de marge passive. Le plateau continental est relativement large à plusiees principaux points et entrées de port sont indiqués par des feux, qui sont le guide principal pour approcher ou rester le long de la côte.

COURANTS:


Le Gulf Stream, un courant chaud de l'océan Atlantique et l'un des plus forts courants marins connus, prend son origine dans le golfe, dans la continuité de la boucle de courant Caraïbes-Yucatán. Les autres caractéristiques de courants océaniques incluent des vortex anticycloniques qui sont générés par la boucle et qui se déplacent vers l'ouest où ils finissent par se dissiper. On trouve également un vortex cyclonique dans la baie de Campeche.

OURAGANS ET TREMBLEMENTS DE TERRE:

L'eau chaude du golfe peut alimenter de puissants ouragans prenant naissance dans l'Atlantique et causant de lourdes pertes humaines et matérielles, comme ce fut le cas avec l'ouragan Katrina en 2005. Dans l'océan Atlantique, un ouragan a tendance à faire remonter à la surface l'eau froide des profondeurs, ce qui diminue la probabilité qu'un autre ouragan suive dans son sillage (car une eau chaude est une condition préalable à la formation d'un ouragan). Toutefois, la faible profondeur des eaux du golfe implique une colonne d'eau relativement chaude. En conséquence, quand un cyclone passe au-dessus, même si la température de l'eau peut vite descendre, elle rebondit généralement tout aussi rapidement et peut ainsi être le berceau d'une autre tempête tropicale.

Bien que la zone du golfe soit considérée comme asismique, de légers tremblements de terre ont été enregistrés au cours de l'histoire (en général moins de 5,0 sur l'échelle de Richter). Le 10 septembre 2006, un tremblement de 6,0 a été enregistré à 400 km au large des côtes de la Floride. Celui-ci n'a causé aucun dégât, mais il a été ressenti dans tout le sud des États-Unis.

6/04/2012
Update
JB
Le golfe du Mexique est la neuvième plus grande du corps de l'eau dans le monde. La forme de son bassin est à peu près ovale et environ 810 miles nautiques (1.500 km) de large et rempli de roches sédimentaires et des débris. Le marnage est très faible en raison de la connexion étroite avec l'océan.
Considéré comme une petite partie de l'océan Atlantique, il est un bassin océanique largement entouré par le continent nord-américain et l'île de Cuba. Il est délimité au nord-est, nord et nord-ouest par la côte du Golfe des Etats-Unis, au sud-ouest et au sud par le Mexique, et sur le sud-est de Cuba.
Il fait partie de l'océan Atlantique par le détroit de Floride entre les Etats-Unis et Cuba, et avec la mer des Caraïbes (avec lequel il forme la mer Méditerranée américaine) via le canal du Yucatan entre le Mexique et Cuba.
Aujourd'hui, il ya sept domaines principaux du golfe:
Golfe du Mexique bassin, qui contient le Deep Sigsbee et peut encore être divisé dans le glacis continental, la plaine abyssale Sigsbee, et le cône du Mississippi.
Nord du golfe du Mexique, qui s'étend de l'est du delta du Mississippi près de Biloxi sur le côté Est de la baie Apalachee.
Floride du sud du plateau continental et du talus, qui s'étend le long de la côte de la baie Apalachee le détroit de Floride et inclut les Keys de Floride et de Dry Tortugas.
Campeche Bank, qui s'étend du détroit du Yucatan dans l'est du bassin de Tabasco-Campeche dans l'ouest et comprend Arrecife Alacran.
Baie de Campeche, qui est une baie isthmique s'étendant de la bordure ouest de Campeche Banque au large des côtes des régions à l'est du port de Veracruz.
Occidentale du golfe du Mexique, qui est situé entre Veracruz, au sud et le Rio Grande, au nord.
Nord-Ouest du Golfe du Mexique, qui s'étend de l'Alabama à la frontière américano-mexicaine.
Le golfe de l'Est du Mexique, au nord et rives nord-ouest se trouvent le long des États américains de la Floride, Alabama, Mississippi, en Louisiane et au Texas.
La partie américaine de la côte du golfe enjambe 1,680 miles (2.700 km), recevant l'eau de 30 à 3 principales rivières qui drainent 31 états. Sud-ouest du Golfe et les rivages sud se trouvent le long des Etats mexicains de Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, et l'extrémité nord de Quintana Roo. La partie mexicaine de la côte du golfe enjambe 1,394 miles (2,243 km). Sur son quadrant sud-est du golfe est bordé par Cuba. Il supporte les grandes industries de pêche américains, mexicains et cubains. Les marges extérieures du plateau continental de gamme du Yucatán et de Floride reçoivent refroidisseur, enrichis en nutriments des eaux de la profondeur par un processus connu sous le nom d'upwelling, qui stimule la croissance du plancton dans la zone euphotique. Cela attire les poissons, crevettes et calmars. Drainage de la rivière et les retombées atmosphériques de l'industrie des villes côtières fournissent également des nutriments à la zone côtière.
La baie de Campeche au Mexique constitue un important organe du Golfe du Mexique. De plus, le littoral du golfe est bordé par de nombreuses baies et anses plus petites. Un certain nombre de rivières se jettent dans le golfe, notamment la rivière Mississippi, dans le nord du golfe, et les fleuves Grijalva et Usumacinta dans le sud du golfe. La terre qui forme la côte du golfe, dont de nombreux longs, les îles-barrières étroites, est presque uniformément faible altitude et se caractérise par des marais et des marécages ainsi que des étendues de plage de sable. Le golfe du Mexique est un excellent exemple d'une marge passive. Le plateau continental est assez large dans la plupart des points le long de la côte, notamment à la Floride et péninsules du Yucatan.
Les principaux points et les entrées du port sont marqués par des feux, qui sont les guides en chef pour approcher ou debout le long de la côte.
COURANTS:
Le Gulf Stream, un courant chaud océan Atlantique et l'un des plus forts courants océaniques connus, proviennent du Golfe, comme une continuation de la Caraïbe de courant Yucatán boucle de courant du système actuel. Caractéristiques de circulation Autres incluent les gyres anticycloniques qui sont versées par la boucle de courant et le voyage vers l'ouest, où ils finissent par se dissiper, et un tourbillon cyclonique permanente dans la baie de Campeche
6/04/2012
Update
JB
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Localisation

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Sites around Gulf of Mexico
Flying distances - Direct line

West Florida

The coast, for nearly 115 miles, from Key West to San Carlos Bay is low, sandy, and generally wooded. Innumerable small islands and keys, interlaced by many small rivers and bayous, make up Everglades National Park and the Ten Thousand Islands. From San Carlos Bay N to Tampa Bay the ...
6 Apr 12

Gulfport

Port.
28 Apr 11

Biloxi

Small port.
28 Apr 11

Isla Mujeres (México)

I sailed from Key West Florida to Marina Hemingway Cuba. After a brief stay, I sailed on to Isla Mujeres..Which in English means the Isle of Women, of an ancient historical significance. A beautiful laid back Island, it has become a must see destination for people visiting from Cancun. ...
29 Dec 07

Madisonville

Small port.
28 Apr 11

Tortugas Bank (Florida)

For 10 miles W from the Dry Tortugas the bottom is broken and irregular, and consists of coral rock with patches of sand and broken shell.
Tortugas Bank, the shoalest part of this area, is 7 miles W of Loggerhead Key and has a least known depth of 37 feet. Depths less than 10 fathoms ...
8 Apr 12

Tulum

Beside being a well-known beach, Tulum is also a site of a Pre-Columbian Maya port city. The ruins of the castle that once stood here are testament to that. Today, the beach can be easily accessed and it has all the amenities
25 Aug 14

Loggerhead Key (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Loggerhead Key, the other of the two principal keys in the
Dry Tortugas, is 2.5 miles W of Garden Key. It have a conical tower, lower half white and upper half black, near the center of Loggerhead Key.
8 Apr 12

Dry Tortugas Light (Loggerhead Key) (Florida)

The Dry Tortugas lighthouse, along with the Garden Key lighthouse at Fort Jefferson, were the only lights on the Gulf coast that stayed in full operation throughout the American Civil War.
The tower (151 feet above the water) was damaged by a hurricane in October 1873 and plans ...
8 Apr 12

Garden Key (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Garden Key is the site of historic Fort Jefferson National Monument, a hexagonal structure with walls 425 feet long rising from a surrounding moat.
In 1846, the US Army began to construct a massive fortification on the tiny island known as Garden Key. Sixteen million bricks were ...
8 Apr 12

Garden Key NW anchorage (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

A good anchorage, although somewhat open to the N, is N and NW of Garden
Key.
The holding ground is good, and the depths range from 8 to 10 fathoms.
8 Apr 12

Bird Key Harbor anchorage (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Bird Key Harbor, reached through the narrow channel encircling Garden Key, wich is well marked, is an excellent anchorage.
The entrance to Bird Key Harbor is narrow, and care is required to avoid the shoals on either side.
The main entrance channel is marked by daybeacons.
8 Apr 12

Garden Key Lighthouse (Florida)

The lighthouse on Garden Key arose in 1826. After the 1873 hurricane, a new lighthouse of iron plate was built atop Fort Jefferson, 70 feet High atop the fortress, marking the harbor entrance until its deactivation in 1924.
8 Apr 12

Bush Key (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Bush Key, just E of Garden Key, is a refuge for noddy and sooty terns. These birds come in early April and leave in September.
8 Apr 12

Garden Key SW anchorage (Florida)

the best shelter is SW of Garden Key and the channel encircling it, where protection is afforded from NW winds.
However, the holding ground is poor, as boats drag anchor along the silty bottom.
Anchorage overnight is allowed in this area.
8 Apr 12

Southwest Channel (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Southwest Channel leads between the reefs W and SW of Garden Key and those off Loggerhead Key. The least depth found along the marked channel is 31 feet, but the same caution is advised as with Southeast
Channel.Among the reefs and keys are numerous places where vessels can anchor ...
8 Apr 12

Pulaski Shoal (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Pulaski Shoal, at the NE end of the group, is 12 miles NW of Rebecca Shoal. Pulaski Shoal Light (24°41'36.0"N., 82°46'22.7"W.), 56 feet above the water, is shown from a small black house on a hexagonal pyramidal skeleton tower on piles on the E side of the shoal.The keys are low ...
8 Apr 12

Southeast Channel (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Southeast Channel skirts the reefs S of East Key and Middle Key, and passes between the 25-foot shoal S of Hospital Key and Iowa Rock off Bush Key Shoal. Iowa Rock is marked by a light.
The reefs S of Middle Key can be cleared by keeping S of a line through the abandoned lighthouse ...
8 Apr 12

Rebecca Shoal Channel (Florida)

Rebecca Shoal Channel, immediately W of Rebecca Shoal Light, frequently is used by vessels bound from the Straits of Florida to points on the W coast of Florida. Vessels bound for Mobile and points W pass to the W of Dry Tortugas.
So far as known, Rebecca Shoal Channel is clear, ...
8 Apr 12

Marquesas Keys (Florida)

The Marquesas Keys (not to be confused with the Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean) form an uninhabited island group about 30 miles (50 km) west of Key West, 4 miles (6 km) in diameter, and overgrown by mangrove. They are protected as part of the Key ...
8 Apr 12

Rebecca Shoal (Florida)

 Rebecca Shoal, 43 miles W of Key West, is a small coral bank covered 11 feet. Rebecca Shoal Light (24°34'42"N., 82°35'06"W.), 66 feet above the water, is shown from a square skeleton tower on a brown pile foundation on the S edge of the shoal. A red sector ...
8 Apr 12

Pensacola

Port.
28 Apr 11

The Quicksands (Florida)

A large shoal, the W part of which is known as The Quicksands, extends 18 miles W from the Marquesas
Keys.
The shoal is about 4.5 miles wide between the 18-foot curves and has a least depth of 2 feet over its E part.
A strong E to W current is observed in the area of The Quicksands.
8 Apr 12

New Ground Shoal (Florida)

New Ground, a shoal with a least depth of 4 feet at its W end, is about 6 miles long. It extends in an E-W direction about 3.5 miles N of The Quicksands.
A light is on the W side of the 4-foot spot. The water shoals abruptly on the N side of New Ground, and vessels should stay ...
8 Apr 12
Local Area

NW Atlantic Ocean

Entre le Groenland et la mer du Nord, l'Atlantique est séparé de l'Océan Arctique par le seuil de Wyville-, zone relativement peu profonde (entre 300 et 1250 m) et de laquelle émerge l'Islande.
Au Nord, c'est-à-dire déjà dans l'océan Arctique, on trouve le bassin de Norvège, ...
19 Mar 15

Cuba

The Republic of Cuba , consists of the island of Cuba (the largest and second-most populous island of the Greater Antilles), Isla de la Juventud and several adjacent small islands.
6 Jan 08

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory located in the western Caribbean Sea, comprising the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. It is a global offshore financial services centre and one of the leading tourist scuba diving destinations in the world.
15 Dec 07

Jamaica

Jamaica  is an island nation of the Greater Antilles. Formerly a Spanish possession known as Santiago, it later became the British West Indies Crown colony of Jamaica. It is the third most populous anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada.
2 Aug 09
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