Canadian Arctic Claims

The Arctic Seafloor

The Arctic Seafloor

The race for the Arctic heats up again.  After a Russian submarine planted a Russian flag on the seabed along the Mendeleev Ridge near the North Pole, the Canadians and Danish got together and launched a counter-attack.  As befitting their national character, they staked their claim on the Arctic based upon sound scientific research, presented at a world geological conference.

Reporting in the Ottawa Citizen, Randy Boswell of the Canadian News Service writes:

There will be no flag-waving or patriotic chest-thumping, but Canadian scientists are quietly set to make one of this country’s most important assertions of Arctic sovereignty in decades tomorrow at a geology conference in Norway.

A year after Russian scientists planted their nation’s flag on the North Pole seabed — a controversial demonstration of their country’s interest in securing control over a vast undersea mountain chain stretching across the Arctic Ocean from Siberia to Ellesmere Island and Greenland — the Canadian researchers have teamed with Danish scientists to offer proof that the Lomonosov Ridge is, in fact, a natural extension of the North American continent.

Along with Russia, both Canada and Denmark are preparing submissions under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to secure jurisdiction over large swaths of the Arctic Ocean sea floor adjacent to their coastlines.

To secure those rights, each country has to submit scientific evidence proving the claimed undersea territories are linked geologically to its mainland or its Arctic islands.

Canada’s planned UNCLOS submission includes areas in the Beaufort Sea in the western Arctic, on the Lomonsov Ridge in the east and along another underwater Arctic mountain range in the central Arctic called Alpha Ridge.

The Canadian-Danish study of the Lomonosov Ridge is to be presented in Oslo by Danish researcher Trine Dahl-Jensen and four scientists from the Geological Survey of Canada: Ruth Jackson, Deping Chian, John Shimeld and Gordon Oakley.

The study describes various geological traits observed by the two countries’ scientists — including magnetic anomalies, crust characteristics and volcanic features — that appear common to both the ridge and adjacent parts of Canada and Greenland.

This leaves the U.S. in a bit of a lurch, since we generally avoid international cooperation and presenting raw scientific evidence for third-party review.  It also doesn’t help that the Senate never ratified the UNCLOS treaty, so we have no rights under it.  So it appears that we’ll have to do it the good ol’ American way – by military invasion in support of multi-national oil companies.

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