Following a search of critical literature on the geology and geophysics of the Arctic, we have constructed a model for the post-Permian evolution of the Arctic Ocean that follows the tenets of plate tectonics.
We consider the history of the Arctic as the study of two separate basins, the Cenozoic Eurasian Basin and the Mesozoic-Cenozoic Amerasian Basin, and we have utilized the detailed pattern of opening of the North Atlantic worked out by Pitman and Talwani (1972) to determine the relative positions of Eurasia and North America during the past 81 m.y.
We propose that the Amerasian Basin as we now know it opened by sea-floor spreading during the Jurassic magnetic quiet period, 180 to 150 m.y. ago. We reject the interpretation of the Alpha-Mendeleyev Ridge complex as an early Cenozoic spreading center and show that this feature is better interpreted as a fossil subduction zone-incipient island arc.
The Eurasian Basin is an extension of the North Atlantic, which has opened by sea-floor spreading during the past 63 m.y. Prior to 63 m.y., the Lomonosov Ridge formed the seaward edge of the Eurasian continental margin.