European country that borders the North Sea

September 30, 2022
The European part of the

Flamborough Head: chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head [Credit: © Peter Hulme—Ecoscene/Corbis]


The extent of the North Sea and the level of its water surface have varied considerably over geologic time. At the end of the Pliocene Epoch (about 2.6 million years ago), the North Sea basin south of Dogger Bank was part of the European mainland, and the Rhine River—joined on its left bank by the Thames—emptied into the sea about 250 miles (400 km) north of present-day London. During the Pleistocene Epoch (about 2, 600, 000 to 11, 700 years ago), ice sheets advanced and retreated several times and deposited a thick layer of clay on the seafloor. At the time of the greatest advance, the ice covered all of the North Sea from a line joining the Thames estuary with the Dutch coast. The final retreat of the glaciers took place about 8, 000 years ago; some centuries later, as its level continued to rise, the expanding sea broke across the land bridge that, until then, had linked Britain with France, and the waters of the North Sea joined with those of the English Channel. The present coastlines of the North Sea were probably not established until some 3, 000 years ago.

fjord: Norway [Credit: Bob and Ira Spring]Physiography

Flamborough Head: chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head© Peter Hulme—Ecoscene/CorbisFew parts of the North Sea are more than 300 feet (90 metres) in depth. The floor dips to the north and is generally irregular. In the south, depths measure less than 120 feet (35 metres); many shallow, shifting banks, presumably of glacial origin, have been reworked by tidal currents. These present serious navigational hazards. Off northern England the vast moraine (glacial deposit of earth and stones) known as is covered to depths of only about 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 metres). This is the location of one of the finest fishing areas in the sea.commercial fishing: measuring the openings in a net [Credit: © European Community, 2006] In contrast, the waters deepen in the Norwegian Trench, an unusual depression that runs parallel to the coast of southern Norway from north of Bergen around to Oslo. It is between 15 and 20 miles (20 to 30 km) wide and is some 1, 000 feet (300 metres) deep in the vicinity of Bergen, reaching a maximum depth of about 2, 300 feet (700 metres) in the Skagerrak. There also are some deep trenches in the western part of the North Sea, including Devils Hole off Edinburgh, where depths exceed 1, 500 feet (450 metres), and Silver Pit, nearly 320 feet (95 metres) deep, off the bay of The Wash in England. These trenches may have been formed at the time of the last glaciation, when parts of the North Sea were free of ice, and rivers coming off the mainland could have eroded deep channels in the basin floor.

North Sea: the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and the English Channel [Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.] Bergen [Credit: Mittet Foto A/S] oil platform [Credit: Jeremy Hardies—Stone/Getty Images] North Sea: oil-drilling platforms off the coast of Norway [Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.]

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Regions of Europe - North Sea - Visit Europe
Regions of Europe - North Sea - Visit Europe
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