The Gulf is a semi-enclosed sea, opened to the Atlantic Ocean through the Cabot Strait and the Strait of Belle Isle. The Laurentian Channel is a long, continuous trough over 300 metres deep that runs 1,500 kilometres from the continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean to where it ends abruptly in the St. Lawrence Estuary at the mouth of the Saguenay River near Quebec City. This trough brings deep oceanic waters to the estuary. There are two secondary troughs (Esquiman and Anticosti channels), and plateaus such as the Magdalen Shallows, which cover the southern part of the Gulf. The Gulf’s submarine topography (i.e. its bottom) is considered complex, and strongly affects how water circulates. Circulation in the Gulf is generally counter-clockwise.
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