Activities of the BGR in the Arctic
The Arctic consists of an ice-covered ocean surrounded by continental land masses. The passive continental margins of this ocean are of major interest due to their presumably high potential in resources. On the other hand, the Arctic ecosystem, particularly in the Permafrost regions, is extremely fragile. Hardly another region on earth reacts as sensible to climate change as the Arctic.
The geodynamics of the margins of the Arctic Ocean, which represents a primary target of the BGR on a supra-regional scale, are studied within the frame of the CASE program (Circum-Arctic Structural Events). In addition to onshore geological investigations, the BGR performs airborne aeromagnetic and marine geophysical surveys in these regions.
The main research is on:
- the initial opening of the Arctic oceans and related magmatism and the development of sedimentary basins
- the reasons for the development of contractional structures in the Arctic and contemporaneous extension during the opening of the ocean basins (for example the formation of a fold belt, extending from Spitsbergen across northern Greenland to the Canadian Ellesmere Island, at the same time as the opening of the Arctic Ocean.
Other research targets of the BGR in the Arctic are:
- the continuation of the mid-oceanic ridge of the Arctic Ocean into the continental crust of Siberia
- the study of the resource potential of the Laptev Sea
- the Polar Urals with their high potential of chromite and elements of the platinum group
- Permafrost research
The land areas of the Arctic and adjacent shelf areas are parts of the sovereign territories of the surrounding countries. Research in these regions therefore requires a close cooperation with the according countries. For instance, the BGR conducted research programs in Spitsbergen in collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute. In Greenland, it cooperated with the Geological Survey of Greenland based in Copenhagen. The studies in Canada were accomplished within the frame of the scientific-technical collaboration program (WTZ) of both countries together with the Geological Survey of Canada and the University Laval/Quebec. Research activities in the Polar Urals were done together with institutes of the Russian Academy of Science in Syktyvkar (Republic of Komi) and Moscow within the frame of the scientific-technological collaboration program with Russia.