Pioneering work on Barents Sea geology

12/01/2015 Investigations conducted by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) have thrown new light on the geology of Svalbard and the northern Barents Sea.

According to a venerable hypothesis, sand and shale deposited around the Arctic archipelago derive from an earlier microcontinent – a kind of sunken Atlantis called Crockerland.

But studies by the NPD have exploded that view, reports geologist and project coordinator Bjørn Anders Lundschien. “Nothing suggests that such a land mass ever existed.”

The reappraisal began with scientific drilling by the directorate off Kong Karls Land in 2005. This was expected to determine the Permian-Triassic boundary, which dates back about 250 million years. But the boundary found proved to be the one between the Middle and Upper Triassic, roughly 229 million years ago.

“Being out by some 20 million years means there’s something wrong with the model,” says Lundschien.

Instead of coming from the north, the sand found around the islands originated to the south-east – all the way from highlands and mountain chains in Russia’s Ural region.

The NPD has staged a number of expeditions to and around Svalbard since 2006, collecting and analysing data together with Norwegian, Russian, Polish and British research institutes. Data from this fieldwork are now being presented and discussed in NPD Bulletin no 11, which can downloaded as PDF-files here. Hardcopies can be ordered free of charge from the NPD here.

Updated: 20/01/2015

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