Reporters: You will have access to a journal, photographs and video during and after this expedition. Information is available atwww.usgs.gov/journals/arctic/.
A scientific expedition this
fall will map the unexplored Arctic seafloor where the U.S. and Canada may have sovereign rights
over natural resources such as oil and gas and control over activities such as
Both countries will use the
resulting data to establish the outer limits of the continental shelf,
according to the criteria set out in the Convention on the Law of the Sea. The
extended continental shelf, the seafloor and subsoil beyond 200 nautical miles
from shore that meet those criteria, is an area of great scientific interest
and potential economic development.
The expedition will be
collaboratively undertaken by the U.S.
using two ships. The U.S. Geological Survey will lead data collection from
September 6 to October 1 on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy to map the Arctic
seafloor. The Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada
will follow Healy on the Canadian Coast Guard ship Louis S. St. Laurent (Louis)
and study the geology of the sub-seafloor.
“The two-ship experiment
allows both the U.S. and Canada to
collect and share complementary data in areas where data acquisition is costly,
logistically difficult, and sometimes dangerous,” said USGS scientist Deborah
Hutchinson, who will sail aboard Louis. “Both countries benefit through sharing
of resources and data as well as increasing likelihood of success by utilizing
two ice-breaker ships in these remote areas of the Arctic
“Healy will utilize an echo
sounder, which emits sounds signals in the water, to map the seafloor. This
will be done using a multibeam bathymetry system,” said USGS scientist Jonathan
Childs, chief scientist on Healy during the September cruise. “Unlike
conventional echo sounders, which measure the water depth at a point directly
beneath the ship, the multibeam system collects a ‘swath’ of depth information
about 3 km wide along the ship’s path, creating a three-dimensional view of the
The National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration funded U.S.
participation in this
mission and collaborated with the University
of New Hampshire to collect
bathymetric data in the Arctic Ocean on Healy
from August 14 to September 5.
Research is coordinated by
the Extended Continental Shelf Task Force, a government-wide group headed by
the U.S. Department of State. Participants in this Task Force include the USGS,
Coast Guard, National Science Foundation, Joint
Chiefs of Staff, U.S.
Navy, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Executive Office
of the President, Minerals Management Service, and the Arctic Research
For more information about
the Convention on the Law of the Sea, visit
USGS provides science for a
changing world. For more information, visitwww.usgs.gov.
Unexplored Arctic Region to be Mapped
September 12, 2008