The Arctic is one of the most climatically hostile and demanding areas in the world. However, to the petroleum explorationist it is one of the most exciting and promising hunting grounds that remains to be explored.

The low-lying areas and the shallow broad shelves of the circum-Arctic are underlain by many large sedimentary basin complexes. From the Late Devonian through the Tertiary, many types of sedimentary basins were formed and filled. Episodes of continental rifting have created large interior basins, passive continental margins, and new ocean basins. Major shear or transform faults have displaced continental segments hundreds of kilometers and formed sedimentary basins in the process. Convergent plate motion has resulted in thrust faulting, magmatism, subduction, and the accretion of exotic terranes to the continents. The processes of crustal contraction have formed sedimentary basins, and in some cases, inverted them.

Paleolatitudes have ranged from near the equator to the present polar portion and climates have fluctuated from tropical to arid to boreal.

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