Scientific deep-sea drilling in high northern latitudes
Jörn Thiede, Olav Eldholm, Annik M. Myhre, 2011. "Scientific deep-sea drilling in high northern latitudes", Arctic Petroleum Geology, Anthony M. Spencer, Ashton F. Embry, Donald L. Gautier, Antonina V. Stoupakova, Kai Sørensen
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Some 30 years ago the regional aspects of the plate tectonic history of the Norwegian–Greenland Sea and the eastern Arctic Ocean were unravelled and showed that these ocean basins had opened in early Eocene, 55–56 Ma ago. Drilling by Glomar Challenger in the Norwegian–Greenland Sea during Leg 38 of the Deep Sea Drilling Project confirmed the plate tectonic model and established a marine biostratigraphy framework for the region. The leg set the stage for three subsequent Ocean Drilling Program legs of thematically oriented drilling by the Joides Resolution. Leg 104 drilled a deep acoustic basement hole on the Vøring Plateau, which has become a legacy hole for volcanic margin studies, and provided new key information on the Northern Hemisphere Glaciation and the history of the Norwegian Current. Legs 151 and 162 addressed North Atlantic–Arctic gateways problems. During Leg 151 the Joides Resolution succeeded, with icebreaker support, in reaching the ice-free waters north of Svalbard, thus for the first time bringing a scientific drill ship into the Arctic Ocean. In 2004, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program organized the mission-specific Expedition 302 to the Lomonosov Ridge in the permanently ice-covered central Arctic Ocean. Comprising a flotilla of three icebreakers, it was a major logistical venture, and resulted in a huge scientific success. The same year the deep site on the Vøring Plateau was revisited and a thermal borehole observatory installed. During these legs a large quantity of core samples has allowed the scientific community to address fundamental questions in terms of continental margin development; plate tectonics; nature of basement; marine biostratigraphy; and the temporal and spatial evolution of the high-latitude northern climate and environments. However, major challenges remain, in particular related to the deep basins, ridges and margins of the Arctic Ocean proper. The next advance in knowledge is contingent on new technology and research infrastructure both for drilling and site surveying. Presently, plans for a new research icebreaker with drilling capability are being developed, the Aurora Borealis project. It will allow systematic drilling in most of the permanently ice-covered basins in the high north. The northern high latitudes have been predicted to contain vast hydrocarbon resources and cooperative ventures between industry and academia may be advantageous.
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The vast Arctic region contains nine proven petroleum provinces with giant resources but over half of the sedimentary basins are completely undrilled, making the region the last major frontier for conventional oil and gas exploration. This book provides a comprehensive overview of the geology and the petroleum potential of the Arctic. Nine papers offer a circum-Arctic perspective on the Phanerozoic tectonic and palaeogeographic evolution, the currently recognized sedimentary basins, the gravity and magnetic fields and, perhaps most importantly, the petroleum resources and yet-to-find potential of the basins. The remaining 41 papers provide data-rich, geological and geophysical analyses and individual oil and gas assessments of specific basins throughout the Arctic. These detailed and well illustrated studies cover the continental areas of Laurentia, Baltica and Siberia and the Arctic Ocean. Of special interest are the 13 papers providing new data and interpretations on the extensive, little known, but promising, basins of Russia.
A DVD is provided inside the back of the book, that contains PDFs of all papers plus all related Supplementary Publications.