Sedimentation in Canada Basin, Western Arctic


The Canada Basin of the western Arctic Ocean is the least studied ocean basin on Earth. Marine seismic field programs were conducted during the past 5 years in order to study the geology, sedimentary history and geomorphology of the region. As part of this program, five annual icebreaker expeditions acquired bathymetric, seismic reflection and seismic refraction data on a regional scale. More than 12,000 km of multi-channel seismic reflection data and 120 sonobuoy seismic refraction records over abyssal plain and continental rise regions of Canada Basin, Northwind Ridge and Alpha Ridge were acquired. The success of these programs was achieved through novel technical modifications to equipment to permit towing in heavy ice conditions and through collaboration between multiple Canadian and US agencies and institutions, enabling utilization of two ice breakers during seismic and multibeam data acquisition in heavy ice. The seafloor of the Canada Basin is remarkably flat-lying in its central region, with little bathymetric change over most of its extent. The sedimentary succession is generally flat lying with reflections extending over hundreds of km. These reflections onlap bathymetric highs, such as Alpha and Northwind ridges. The sedimentary succession is thickest in the Beaufort Sea region, reaching more than 6.5 km, and generally thins to the north and west. Reflection characteristics suggest that sediment volume input to the Arctic Ocean has been high and dominated by turbidity current deposition, similar to Amundsen and Nansen Basins of the eastern Arctic. These turbidites originate from the eastern and southern continental margins. There is no evidence of contemporaneous or post-depositional reworking by bottom currents. Additionally, there is little evidence of tectonic deformation after primary basin-forming events except in the NE quadrant, nearer Alpha Ridge. In this area, there is significant normal faulting propagating from basement through much of the sedimentary succession. Basement graben stuctures in combination with these faults imply possible crustal extension contemporaneous with deposition.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Conference Date

Dec 13 - Dec 17, 2010

Publisher Place

San Francisco, CA, USA


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type

Conference Proceeding