Plate Tectonic Evolution of the Amerasia Basin, Arctic Ocean


The Amerasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean remains one of the last plate tectonic puzzles on Earth.  It's ocean floor has never been drilled scientifically and its origin is very controversial. We are integrating our work across Arctic Russia with new data being collected within the Amerasia Basin in order to place kinematic and timing constraints on the plate tectonic rift history of the Arctic Ocean.


The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO, Jakobsson et al., 2000) above, as well as high resolution multibeam bathymetry (below, Northwind Ridge) collected on the USCGC Healy offer new information about the tectonic geomorphology of the Amerasia Basin.

  multibeam bathymetry of the Northwind Ridge

Oblique view of bathymetry along the Northwind Ridge, Arctic Ocean.


For the first time in history, countries are delineating their continental boundaries without confilct, and with cooperation between nations.  In 2008 (and in upcoming summer 2009) the USCGC Healy and the CCG Louis S. St. Laurent (below) conduct joint data collection operations within the Amerasia Basin.  The bathymetric and multi-channel seismic data, as well as dredged rock samples collected for the Law of the Sea effort has been, and will continue to be, important to our understanding about the enigmantic history of the Arctic Ocean.

USCGC Healy/Louis St Laurent

USCGC Healy and CCG Louis S. St. Laurent in the Arctic Ocean, summer 2008


Because of the difficulties associated with traditional data collection techniques in the ice covered waters of the Arcitc Ocean, this area remains one of the last frontiers on the planet.  

ice breaking


On every expedition, marine mammal observers are part of the science party.  This helps to ensure that our curiosity about their environment, does not cause them harm. Cruise planning also includes consultation with Inupiat elders in order to avoid conflicts with whale hunting season. 

polar bear in the Arctic Ocean

Nanuk on the sea ice hundreds of kilometers from land, is not overly concerned about the presence of a big red boat.


Some recent publications:

2011 Saltus, R.W., Miller, E.L., Gaina, C. and Brown, P. J., Regional magnetic domains of the circum-Arctic- A framework for geodynamic interpretion, in, Spencer, A. M., Embry, A. F., Gautier, D. L., Stoupakova, A. V. & Sørensen, K. (eds) Arctic Petroleum Geology. Geological Society, London, Memoir 35, 49–60.




  • 2009   Amato, J.M., Toro, J., Miller, E.L., Gehrels, G.E., Farmer, G.L., Gottlieb, E.S. and Till, A.B., Late Proterozoic-Paleozoic evolution of the Arctic Alaska-Chukotka terrane based on U-Pb igneous and detrital zircon ages: Implications for Neoproterozoic paleogeographic reconstructions, Geological Society of American Bulletinv. 121. p. 1219-1235.
  • 2009   Miller, E.L., and Verzhbitsky, V., Structural studies near Pevek Russia: Implications for formation of the East Siberian Shelf and Makarov Basin of the Arctic Ocean, in, D.B. Stone and others, eds., Geology, Geophysics and Tectonics of Northeastern Russia: A Tribute to L. Parfenov, Stephan Mueller Special Publication Series 8, European Geophysical Union, p. 223-241.
  • 2009   Miller, E.L., S. Katkov, A. Strickland, J. Toro, V.V. Akinin and T.A. Dumitru, Geochronology and thermochronology of Cretaceous plutons and metamorphic country rocks, Anyui-Chukotka Fold Belt, North East Arctic Russia, in, D.B. Stone and others, eds., Geology, Geophysics and Tectonics of Northeastern Russia: A Tribute to Leonid Parfenov, Stephan Mueller Special Publication Series 4, European Geophysical Union, p. 157-175.
  • 2008   Miller, E.L., Soloviev, A., Kuzmichev, A., Gehrels, G., Toro, J and Tuchkova, M., Jura-Cretaceous syn-orogenic deposits of the Russian Arctic: Separated by birth of Makarov Basin? Norwegian Journal of Geology v. 88, no.4, p. 201-226.
  • 2006   Miller, E.L., Toro, J., Gehrels, G., Amato, J.M., Prokopiev, A., Tuchkova, M., Akinin, V., Dumitru, T., Moore, T. E. and Cecile, M., New Insights into Arctic Paleogeography and Tectonics from Detrital Zircon Geochronology, Tectonics, v. 25, TC3013.