continental divide


continental divide
1. a divide separating river systems that flow to opposite sides of a continent.
2. (caps.) (in North America) the line of summits of the Rocky Mountains, separating streams flowing toward the Gulf of California and the Pacific from those flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay, and the Arctic Ocean.
[1865-70, Amer.]

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Most notable watershed of the North American continent.

The mountains comprising it extend generally north-south, thus dividing the continent's principal drainage into waters flowing eastward (e.g., into Hudson Bay in Canada or the Mississippi River in the U.S.) and waters flowing westward (into the Pacific Ocean). Most of the divide runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains, through British Columbia in Canada and through the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico in the U.S. Its central point is Colorado, where it has many peaks above 13,000 ft (3,962 m). It continues southward into Mexico, roughly paralleling the Sierra Madre, and into Central America.

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▪ mountain ridge, North America
 fairly continuous ridge of north-south–trending mountain summits in western North America which divides the continent's principal drainage into that flowing eastward (either to Hudson Bay in Canada or, chiefly, to the Mississippi and Rio Grande rivers in the United States) and that flowing westward (into the Pacific Ocean). Most of the divide runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains, through British Columbia and along the British Columbia–Alberta border in Canada, and through the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico in the United States. It continues southward into Mexico and Central America, roughly paralleling the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre del Sur, with their associated ranges in Central America. In general usage the name continental divide is applied to the main water parting in any continent.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Continental Divide — ridge of the Rocky Mountains forming a North American watershed that separates rivers flowing in an easterly direction from those flowing in a westerly direction …   English World dictionary

  • Continental divide — This article is about continental divides in general. For other meanings, see Continental divide (disambiguation). A continental divide is a drainage divide on a continent such that the drainage basin on one side of the divide feeds into one… …   Wikipedia

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  • continental divide — continen′tal divide′ n. 1) geo a divide separating river systems that flow to opposite sides of a continent 2) geo geg (caps.) Also called Great Divide the watershed in North America formed by the Rocky Mountains, separating streams flowing west… …   From formal English to slang

  • continental divide — noun the watershed of a continent (especially the watershed of North America formed by a series of mountain ridges extending from Alaska to Mexico) • Regions: ↑North America • Hypernyms: ↑watershed, ↑water parting, ↑divide • Part Meronyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Continental Divide — or Great Divide geographical name the watershed of North America comprising the line of highest points of land separating the waters flowing W from those flowing N or E, coinciding with various ranges of the Rockies, & extending SSE from NW… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • continental divide — /ˌkɒntənɛntəl dəˈvaɪd/ (say .kontuhnentuhl duh vuyd) noun Geology the line along which the waterways in a continent divide with one set flowing in one direction and the others in the opposite direction …   Australian English dictionary


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