IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


29th December, 2023 Geography


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  • Environmental groups criticized the five-year plan as a 'missed opportunity' to stop the expansion of oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and address climate change.

About Gulf of Mexico

  • It is the biggest gulf in the world and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Mexican Yucatan and Veracruz areas border it on the west, the United States borders it on the north, the Caribbean islands and Cuba border it on the east, and the tapering Mexican mainland borders it on the
  • It is connected to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea by way of the Straits of Florida, which separate Cuba and the United States, and the Yucatán Channel, which runs between Cuba and Mexico.
  • With a land area of more than 1.6 million square kilometres, it is among the planet's oldest bodies of water. About 300 million years ago, during the late Triassic epoch, it was formed.
  • It is somewhat shallow, along the coastal continental shelf areas and has an average depth of 1,615m.
  • The climate of the region varies from tropical to subtropical.
  • Currents: The Gulf Stream is one of the most powerful and warm ocean currents that enters the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea and flows out to the Atlantic.
  • Some portions of the loop current often break away; forming gyres or eddies, which further affect the regional current patterns.
  • The two main rivers that empty into the gulf are the Mississippi and the Rio Grande.
  • Mexico's Veracruz and the United States’ Galveston, New Orleans, Pensacola, and Tampa are its principal ports.

Dead Zone

  • Hypoxic zones are areas in the ocean of such low oxygen concentration that animal life suffocates and dies, and as a result are sometimes called "dead zones."
  • Less oxygen dissolved in the water is often referred to as a “dead zone” because most marine life either dies, or, if they are mobile such as fish, leave the area.
  • Habitats that would normally be teeming with life become, essentially, biological deserts.
  • Hypoxic zones can occur naturally, but scientists are concerned about the areas created or enhanced by human activity.
  • Nutrient pollution is the primary cause of those zones created by humans.
  • Once in the Gulf, these nutrients trigger algae blooms that choke off oxygen in water and make it difficult, if not impossible, for marine life to survive.

Gulf of Mexico dead Zone

  • One of the largest dead zones forms in the Gulf of Mexico every spring.
  • Each spring as farmers fertilize their lands preparing for crop season, rain washes fertilizer off the land and into streams and rivers.
  • The Gulf dead zone owes its size to the mighty Mississippi River, which collects tons of nutrients from agricultural and urban runoff from cities through its course.
  • Dead zone in the Gulf of the Mexico is the world's second largest.
  • The world's largest dead zone is in the Baltic Sea.


Discuss the strategic, economic, and environmental significance of the Gulf of Mexico. How does its geographical location impact global trade, energy security, and environmental sustainability?