Published:January 01, 1973
Arctic geology, as related to the development of natural resources, is an essential element in man's most critical challenges: (1) to provide mineral and energy resources in amounts adequate for present and developing needs; (2) to provide these resources without degrading the natural environment; and (3) to acquire, organize, communicate, and apply the knowledge on which solutions to the first two challenges depend. The first challenge can be illustrated by reference to the United States, whose energy requirements are projected to be almost doubled by 1985 and to increase threefold by the year 2000. Projected demands for other nonrenewable mineral resources are similar. Exploration for fossil fuel reserves and for nonfuel minerals will intensify in the near future.
Accepting the need for a continuing supply of mineral raw materials, we must make every effort to minimize the potentially adverse effects of resource development and to remedy them when they do occur. The costs of nonrenewable resources necessarily may be increased, but the increased costs represent the purchase of values to be shared and passed on to future generations. The Arctic, being practically unmodified by man's living systems, provides a unique test of our abilities to meet these two challenges. The third challenge, acquiring the data necessary to accomplish the first two challenges, will be difficult because of the natural Arctic environment. Accelerated research and effort will be required.
The three proposed challenges must be met at three levels of involvement: international, national, and individual. The response at the international level is complex, but our responsibilities—as individuals and as scientists—are emerging. At the national level, the U.S. Department of the Interior has a leadership role in Arctic activities through the various agencies and bureaus under its jurisdiction and through cooperation with many other government agencies. The geologist, as an individual, must make an effort to communicate and to apply geology to the service of man in coping with the problems he faces. He must make a commitment and become part of the solutions to the critical challenges.
Figures & Tables
Following the discovery of Prudhoe Bay oil field in 1968, much attention was turned to the Arctic in the search for giant hydrocarbon accumulations. The Soviets had already proved giant reserves in their West Siberian Basin, and exploration was moving ahead quickly in the Canadian Arctic. Plans were drawn up for an AAPG Symposium on Arctic Geology and held in February 1971. Papers were selected from the Symposium for this publication and cover seven topical groupings: Regional Arctic Geology of Canada, Regional Arctic Geology of the Nordic Countries, Regional Arctic Geology of the USSR, Regional Arctic Geology of Alaska, Comparisons in the North Atlantic Borders, Evolution of the Arctic Ocean Basin, and Economics of Petroleum Exploration and Production in the Arctic.