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Caribbean Sea

Geology and Climate

Geologically, the Caribbean Sea consists of two main basins separated by a broad, submarine plateau. Cayman Trench, a trench between Cuba and Jamaica, contains the Caribbean's deepest point (24,721 ft/7,535 m below sea level). The Caribbean's water is clear, warm (75°F/24°C), and less salty than the Atlantic; the basin has a very low tidal range (c.1 ft/.3 m). The Caribbean Sea has a counterclockwise current; water enters through the Lesser Antilles, is warmed, and exits via the Yucatán Channel, where it forms the Gulf Stream. Volcanic activity and earthquakes are common in the Caribbean, as are destructive hurricanes that originate over the sea or in the Atlantic.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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