Skip to Main Content
Book Chapter

The Arctic Islands

H. P. Trettin
H. P. Trettin
Geological Survey of Canada, 3303 33rd Street NW, Calgary, Alberta T2L 2A7, Canada
Search for other works by this author on:
January 01, 1989


The Canadian Arctic Archipelago, perched on the northern rim of the continent, is about 1.3 million km2 in area, including intervening waters (Fig. 1; Plate 9, index). Parry Channel, a seaway connecting Baffin Bay with the western Arctic Ocean, separates the Queen Elizebeth Islands to the north from another group of islands to the south. Rugged mountain ranges with extensive ice caps in the eastern part of the archipelago, and plateaus, lowlands, and a coastal plain in the western part, are all dissected by numerous channels and fiords (Dawes and Christie, Ch. 3).1

Outlines of the geography and rudiments of the geology were established during the last century and the first half of this century. This work was done by ship, with sledges, or on foot, under hardship and often tragic circumstances (Christie and Dawes, Ch. 2). A coherent stratigraphic-structural framework has emerged from subsequent systematic surface studies, which have been supported by helicopters since 1955. Paleontology, always at the forefront of Arctic earth science, has provided the basis for both regional correlations and reconstructions of the geologic history. Petroleum exploration has been active in the islands since the early 1960s, and by 1987, 176 wells had been drilled and more than 65,000 km of seismic reflection lines had been shot. The well data have been absorbed into the stratigraphic framework, and a few instructive seismic interpretations have been released (e.g., Harrison and Bally, 1988), but the bulk of the seismic work remains unpublished. Gravity surveys (Sobczak, Ch. 5A) and deep seismic refraction surveys, both carried out from the late 1950s onward, have permitted construction of crustal cross sections in the western parts of the islands (Sweeney and others, 1986; Sobczak and others, Ch. 5B), while aeromagnetic surveys (Coles, Ch. 5D), electrical conductivity studies (Niblett and Kurtz, Ch. 5E), and analyses of seismicity (Forsyth and others, Ch. 5C) have elucidated other aspects of crustal structure and tectonics.

You do not currently have access to this article.
Don't already have an account? Register

Figures & Tables


DNAG, Geology of North America

The Geology of North America—An Overview

Albert W. Bally
Albert W. Bally
Department of GeologyP.O. Box 1892Houston, Texas 77251
Search for other works by this author on:
Allison R. Palmer
Allison R. Palmer
Geological Society of America3300 Penrose Place, P.O. Box 9140Boulder, Colorado 80301
Search for other works by this author on:
Geological Society of America
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 1989




A comprehensive resource of eBooks for researchers in the Earth Sciences

This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

View Article Abstract & Purchase Options

For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription.

Subscribe Now