Home | Ecozones
Ecological Framework of Canada
Pacific Maritime Ecozone

Landforms and Climate

  1. Igneous rocks
  2. Sedimentary rocks
  3. Intertidal zone
  4. Fiord

The Coast Mountains dominate most of the ecozone, rising steeply from the fiords and deep channels that line the Pacific coast. Glaciers and snowfields cap the tallest ranges. The ecozone includes Mount Waddington, at 4 000 metres B.C.’s highest mountain. The mountains of Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, although not nearly as high, make up in ruggedness what they lack in elevation. Igneous and sedimentary rocks lie beneath most of the area while fallen rocks and glacial deposits predominate on the surface.

In contrast with the mountains, the Estevan Coastal Plain is a long narrow strip of rocky coastline dotted by the occasional beach. Found only along the west coast of Vancouver Island, this unique landscape is constantly changing as it bears the full brunt of the Pacific's ceaseless waves and scouring winds.

Striking mazes of fiords and channels dissect the coastline from Vancouver to Alaska. These are classic fiords, some of the world's longest and deepest. They slash inland up to 190 kilometres, with sheer sides plunging over 2 000 metres. The deepest fiord in the world is Findlayson Channel, with soundings of over 795 metres.

The ecozone lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire, a narrow, semi-circular area known for volcanic eruptions and earthquakes caused by friction between the Earth’s crustal plates. Hot springs that beckon back-country adventurers bear testimony to crustal "hot spots" found throughout this area.

This ecozone has some of the warmest and wettest weather in Canada. Its maritime climate receives as little as 600 mm of precipitation per year in the lower Georgia Strait, while the area to the north is typically much wetter, receiving up to 3 000 mm. Compared to the rest of Canada, there is little variation in monthly temperatures. Averages in July range between 12 and 180C and, in January, between 4 and 60C. The frost-free period is up to 220 days long in the moist southerly valleys, decreasing to about 100 days in the mountains.