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Since 1980, affiliates of the Russian Geological Committee (formerly part of the USSR Ministry of Geology) operating under the auspices of the Russian Ocean Geotransect Program have been performing geological and geophysical investigations over wide swaths of typical oceanic crust in the Atlantic and Indian oceans. A primary objective is to produce, rapidly and economically, an accurate digital data base to further our understanding of the oceanic lithosphere's origin and structure and to develop regional assessments of mineral and hydrocarbon potentials.

Over the next 15 years, the Russian Ocean Geotransect Program is projected to complete the mapping of a total of eleven transoceanic swaths that characterize practically all tectonic regimes and typical morphostructures of the world ocean (Figure 1). Located in key regions, these profiles represent new opportunities for crustal and lithospheric mapping; many of the locations relate to completed and planned JOIDES (Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling) drilling sites.