Mapping the Arctic ocean floor

Release Date: 
Monday, December 15, 2008

For Immediate Release

FAIRBANKS, Alaska—An ice-free Arctic has the potential to unlock a wealth of resources that have long been inaccessible, buried beneath the ocean floor. This year, Russia nabbed a slew of attention for its claim that the Lomonosov Ridge is simply an extension of the Siberian continental shelf, an area believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves.

Bernard Coakley will share how underwater mapping tools have improved dramatically in recent years at a poster session at 1:40 p.m. on Wednesday, December 17 in the Moscone Center’s North Exhibit Hall D in San Francisco. The session is one of many planned at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. Coakley, an associate professor with the Geophysical Institute and the College of Natural Science and Mathematics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, contends that today’s tools provide more precise morphology of the ocean floor and can be used to establish a plausible claim for countries hoping to access submarine resources.

Betsy Baker, a visiting associate professor at the Vermont Law School, will join Coakley to present “Mapping for Advocacy—Using Marine Geophysical Data to Establish the Limits of Extending Continental Shelves Under the Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Coakley is currently involved with international collaborative projects for Arctic science and exploration, particularly the development of new bathymetry, and has participated in the first-ever scientific drilling cruise to the central Arctic. Bernard Coakley’s been with the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 2002.


Associate Professor Bernard Coakley, University of Alaska Fairbanks: 907-474-5385, Ned Rozell, Geophysical Institute science writer: (stationed in the AGU Press Room, Dec. 15-19, 2008) Amy Hartley, Geophysical Institute information officer: 907-474-5823,