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Facts About The Strait Of Gibraltar For Kids


The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Gibraltar and Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa. Europe and Africa are separated by 7.7 nautical miles of ocean at the strait’s narrowest point.

  • Ferries cross between the two continents every day in as little as 35 minutes.
  • The Spanish side of the Strait is protected under El Estrecho Natural Park.
  • On the northern side of the Strait are Spain and Gibraltar (a British overseas territory in the Iberian Peninsula), while on the southern side are Morocco and Ceuta.
  • Around 5.
  • 9 million years ago, the connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean along the Betic and Rifan Corridor was progressively restricted until its total closure, effectively causing the salinity of the Mediterranean to periodically fall within the gypsum and salt deposition range, during what is known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis.
  • In this water chemistry environment, dissolved mineralconcentrations, temperature and stilled water currents combined properly and occurred regularly to precipitate many mineral salts in sea floor bedded layers.
  • It is estimated that, were the straits closed even at today’s higher sea level, most water in the Mediterranean basin would evaporate within only a thousand years, as it is believed to have done then, and such an event would lay down similar mineral deposits as those such as the salt mines now found under the sea floor all over the Mediterranean.
  • The erosion produced by the incoming waters seem to be the main cause for the present depth of the strait (900 m at the narrows, 280 m at the Camarinal Sill).
  • Beginning in 1492, the straits began to play a certain cultural role in acting as a barrier against cross-strait conquest and the flow of culture and language that would naturally follow such a conquest.
  • A smaller amount of deeper saltier and therefore denser waters continually work their way westwards (the Mediterranean outflow), while a larger amount of surface waters with lower salinity and density continually work their way eastwards.
  • The Mediterranean waters are so much saltier than the Atlanticwaters that they sink below the constantly incoming water and form a highly saline layer of bottom water.
  • On the Atlantic side of the strait, a density boundary separates the Mediterranean outflow waters from the rest at about 100 m (330 ft) depth.
  • Internal waves (waves at the density boundary layer) are often produced by the strait.
  • In the 1920s and 1930s, the Atlantropa project proposed damming the strait to generate large amounts of electricity and lower the sea level of the Mediterranean by several hundreds of meters to create large new lands for settlement.