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CALE (Circum-Arctic Lithosphere Evolution) - A 5-year International Research Program

V. Pease1 and Randell Stephenson2
1Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
2School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.

The geological evolution of the Arctic region is one of the last unknowns in global plate tectonics. The Arctic Ocean basins, relatively inaccessible to direct sampling, are known mostly from 'remote' geophysical methods. For example, the Amerasia Basin at c. 3800 meters below sea level is virtually unexplored. Its age and spreading history have been inferred from structural and stratigraphic relationships observed on the basin margins. These inferences have not been confirmed by observations within the basin itself. Onshore, the Arctic region comprises remote wilderness areas far from supporting infrastructure and consequently is mapped mostly at a reconnaissance scale; the lack of age control on units, structural fabrics, timing of fold and thrust belts, etc., makes it difficult to correlate geology from one region to another, to extrapolate geology from on-shore to off-shore, or to constrain the development of Arctic ocean basins using circum-Arctic geologic data. Major impediments to unravelling the tectonic and lithosphere evolution of the Amerasia Basin include: i) the scarcity of data coverage in the region, ii) the lack of direct coupling between on-shore geology and offshore geophysics surrounding the Basin and iii) the lack of physical samples from the deeper parts of the basin. In addition to obtaining new data sets (or reworking older data sets using more modern techniques), it is agreed that only the full integration of onshore geology with offshore geophysics can provide us with the capacity to make significant advances in our current understanding of the tectonic and lithosphere development of this important region. The CALE project aims to pursue these types of advances in order to test existing, and confidently formulate new, hypotheses related to understanding Arctic evolution.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90130©2011 3P Arctic, The Polar Petroleum Potential Conference & Exhibition, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 30 August-2 September, 2011.