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Miami Geography
 
 
 

At only 35.68 square miles (92 sq km) of land area, Miami has the smallest land area of any major US city with a metro area of at least 2.5 million people. The city proper is home to less than 1 in 13 residents of South Florida. Additionally, 52% of Miami-Dade County’s population doesn't live in any incorporated city.

Miami is the only major city in the United States bordered by two national parks, Everglades National Park on the west, and Biscayne National Park on the east.

Miami and its suburbs are located on a broad plain between the Florida Everglades to the west and Biscayne Bay to the east that also extends from Florida Bay north to Lake Okeechobee. The elevation of the area never rises above 40 ft (12 m) and averages at around 6 ft (2 m) above mean sea level in most neighbourhoods, especially near the coast.

The highest undulations are found along the coastal Miami Rock Ridge, whose substrate underlies most of the eastern Miami metropolitan region. The main portion of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially-created barrier islands, the largest of which contains Miami Beach and South Beach. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current, runs northward just 15 miles (24.1 km) off the coast, allowing the city's climate to stay warm and mild all year.

The surface bedrock under the Miami area is called Miami oolite or Miami limestone. This bedrock is covered by a thin layer of soil, and is no more than 50 feet (15 m) thick. Miami limestone formed as the result of the drastic changes in sea level associated with recent glaciations or ice ages. Beginning some 130,000 years ago the Sangamon interglacial raised sea levels to approximately 25 feet (7.5 m.) above the current level. All of southern Florida was covered by a shallow sea. Several parallel lines of reef formed along the edge of the submerged Florida plateau, stretching from the present Miami area to what is now the Dry Tortugas. The area behind this reef line was in effect a large lagoon, and the Miami limestone formed throughout the area from the deposition of oolites and the shells of bryozoans. Starting about 100,000 years ago the Wisconsin glaciation began lowering sea levels, exposing the floor of the lagoon. By 15,000 years ago, the sea level had dropped to 300 to 350 feet (110 m) below the contemporary level. The sea level rose quickly after that, stabilising at the current level about 4000 years ago, leaving the mainland of South Florida just above sea level.

Beneath the plain lies the Biscayne Aquifer, a natural underground source of fresh water that extends from southern Palm Beach County to Florida Bay, with its highest point peaking around the cities of Miami Springs and Hialeah. Most of the South Florida metropolitan area obtains its drinking water from this aquifer. As a result of the aquifer, it is not possible to dig more than 15 to 20ft (4.57 to 6.1 m) beneath the city without hitting water, which impedes underground construction. For this reason there is no subway system in Miami.

 

 
 


 



 


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