Abstract

The history of the deep Arctic Ocean is largely unwritten. The means to understand this history may now be at hand. Bathymetry and potential field data have accumulated to the point it is possible to ask specific questions about the origins and evolution of the individual ridges and basins. The two primary basins have contrasting histories and deficits of understanding. The Eurasia Basin, formed during the Cenozoic, is well understood as far as the kinematics are concerned. The dynamics of ultraslow spreading, as observed on the Gakkel Ridge, are not well understood. It is widely thought that the Amerasia Basin formed during the Mesozoic. Most previous work has begun with a large-scale model of the basin tectonics and fit the ridges and basins it into this pattern. Enough is now known to establish the internal structure and relations from specific observations rather than a priori assumptions. This paper reviews knowledge about the central Arctic Ocean and proposes what should be done to develop a historical understanding of basin history. Ground truth from Arctic Ocean sediments is necessary. It will not be possible to establish the history of events, in geological time, until the sediments have been sampled and dated.

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