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Abstract

The US Chukchi Shelf is a proven petroleum province similar to the prolific hydrocarbon-bearing region in the adjacent North Slope of Alaska. This shelf is part of the Arctic Alaska plate that was presumably connected to the Canadian Arctic Islands until the opening of the Canada Basin. A new data set (3130 km) of deep 2D seismic reflection profiles, acquired in 2006 and depth processed to 40 km, provides excellent images of the drillable (c. 8 km depth) stratigraphy as well as of deeper structures. The data also permit regional mapping of the tops of crystalline basement and the Moho discontinuity. The area has a tectonic history of multiple phases of rifting: a pre-Late Devonian phase that culminated in inversion and thrusting; a Late Devonian–Mississippian phase that accommodated Ellesmerian sedimentary deposits as a sag sequence; and a Jurassic to Early Cretaceous phase that is contemporaneous with the opening of the Canada Basin. Hanna Trough is recognized as a Palaeozoic basin with a multistage history while the North Chukchi Basin formed in early Cretaceous as an extensional basin. Only five wells have been drilled in the area; hence numerous opportunities for further exploration exist in the Chukchi Shelf.

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