Piston cores improve understanding of deep Arctic Ocean



Recent proposals for deep Arctic Ocean drilling [COMPLEX, 2000; JOIDES, 2001] are significant steps toward an eventual understanding of the geologic framework, plate kinematics, and Cretaceous and Cenozoic environmental history of the north polar ocean. Because the proposals are subject to a variety of fiscal uncertainties, however, deep drilling in the ice-covered ocean could be years away from initiation. However, even in the absence of drilling, significant data concerning the geologic framework and Cretaceous-to-Eocene and late Cenozoic paleoenvironment of the Arctic Ocean basin have developed from piston cores collected from crests and flanks of Arctic Ocean ridges. While deep drilling is needed to test and amplify the commonly incomplete piston core record, some piston cores already have acquired firm data on lithology age, and paleoenvironment of Cambrian-to-Tertiary bedrock in parts of the Alpha, North wind, and Lomonosov Ridges (Figure l), and additional piston coring may be the best choice for immediate additional Arctic Ocean research.