Geology, Wind & Currents

© Destination Canada / Hubert Kang

B.C.’s coast has been shaped by a number of complex processes:

  • The B.C. coast stretches across four different tectonic plates, which are massive underground slabs of solid rock that float, move and change shape over time. The four plates underneath our coast are the Pacific, the North America, the Juan de Fuca and the Explorer Plates.
  • Interactions of these plates, and other geological activities, have formed a complex and diverse terrain of mountains, mainland and hundreds of inlets, fjords and islands.
  • Winds from the west bring warm, wet air which hits the Coast Mountains, cools and falls as rain, hail, snow or fog.
  • Winds from the east split into the Alaska and California currents. This split means a large part of B.C.’s coast is in a transition zone that has different effects on temperature and nutrients within our coastal waters.
  • As the B.C. coast is near this transition zone, nutrients are brought to the surface of the water, which feeds, cultivates and provides a habitat for great variation in marine and plant life.

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