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Opening the Arctic Ocean: Implications for Circum-Arctic Petroleum Potential

Previous HitRobertNext Hit A. Scott1, Vladimir Yu. Glebovsky2, Alexander Minakov2, Previous HitStewartTop Sinclair3, and Ron Macnab4
1 University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
2 VNIIOkeangeologiya, St Petersburg, Russia
3 CASP, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
4 Geological Survey of Canada (retired), Dartmouth

As a percentage of the total marine area, the Arctic Ocean has the most extensive continental shelves of any ocean basin (~53%), constituting a huge frontier province for hydrocarbon exploration. The preparation of paleogeographic reconstructions is an important element in developing hydrocarbon exploration strategies for frontier areas; however, a major obstacle to this procedure in the Arctic is the controversy that surrounds opening of the Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic Ocean contains two deep-water oceanic basins, the Eurasia and Amerasia basins, separated by the submarine Lomonosov Ridge, a continental fragment that crosses the Arctic Ocean from Canada to Siberia. Spreading in the Eurasia Basin began in Paleocene time when the Lomonosov Ridge was detached from the Barents/Kara shelf, and continues today on the Gakkel Ridge. Opening of the Eurasia Basin is well constrained by the pattern of linear magnetic anomalies in oceanic crust, and corroborated by the excellent fit of the Lomonosov Ridge against the Barents/Kara margin.

The Amerasia Basin is generally considered to be predominantly of Cretaceous age. In contrast to the Eurasia Basin, there is no easily interpretable pattern of magnetic anomalies. Furthermore, the origins of several component features in the Amerasia Basin are controversial. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the mechanism responsible for opening the Amerasia Basin is disputed. Using 3-D GIS to interrogate magnetic, bathymetric and gravity datasets, and to implement plate reconstructions, we seek to test different spreading geometries and to consider their implications for hydrocarbon exploration on the surrounding shelves.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90039©2005 AAPG Calgary, Alberta, June 16-19, 2005