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Geologically, the East Greenland Shelf remained virtually unexplored for many years while the onshore East Greenland Mesozoic basin stratigraphy was intensely studied and served as a reference for the interpretation of the offshore East Greenland and northwest European margins. This development was a natural consequence of the excellent onshore basin exposure while polar pack ice is found almost year-around on the East Greenland shelf. The first geophysical information from the East Greenland shelf was published by Vogt (1970), Eldholm and Windisch (1974), Johnson and others (1975a, b), B. Larsen (1975), H. C. Larsen (1975, 1978), Henderson (1976), and Featherstone and others (1977).

Results of the first multichannel reflection seismic surveying on the shelf were reported by Hinz and Schlüter (1978, 1980). On the basis of this information and initial results from an aeromagnetic survey (H. C. Larsen and Thorning, 1979, 1980), a regional geological model for the East Greenland Shelf was proposed by H. C. Larsen (1980). This model involved early Tertiary oceanic crust thought to be present below parts of the outer shelf off central East Greenland and subsided continental crust thought to be present up to approximately 100 km seaward of the shelf break off southeastern Greenland. The actual position of the shelf edge was found to be controlled mainly by post-rift sedimentation rather than deep crustal features (H. C. Larsen, 1980). It was further suggested that Cenozoic basins might dominate the southern half of the shelf while Mesozoic and Paleozoic basins were likely to be present beneath the northern shelf.

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