Properties and history of the central eastern Arctic sea floor

J. Thiede, S. Pfirman, U. Bleil, P. Mudie, E. Sundvor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The deep eastern Arctic basin between the Lomonosov Ridge and the Eurasian continental margin differs from other ocean basins in the very slow spreading of its floor and unusual depositional environment under perennial sea-ice cover. The recent expedition ARK IV/3 of RV Polarstern for the first time made geoscientific investigations from the northern margin of the Barents Sea north to the Nansen-Gakkel Ridge. Much deeper than most other mid-ocean ridges, this ridge is poorly-surveyed, but has a central valley which in places is deeper than 5.5 km, 1–1.5 km below the basin floors on either side. Heat flow in the central part of the valley is very rapid; both basement rocks and overlying sediments showed unexpectedly the influence of intense and long-term hydrothermal activity. The sediments on the northern and southern flanks of the ridge are slightly calcareous pelagic mud layers alternating with carbonate-free horizons, where up to 40% of the sedimentary section is soft mud c lasts. Similar mud aggregates were observed on the surface of the multi-year sea ice, appearing to represent a special type of sediment transport by sea ice in the Transpolar Drift. In contrast to the western Arctic, Fram Strait and the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, gravel is rarely found in sediment cores. Recovered cores indicate that icebergs and sea ice carrying coarse sediment seldom rafted detritus to the study area during the last approximately 300,000 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalPolar Record
Issue number156
StatePublished - Jan 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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