For Immediate Release
The Geophysical Institute, the Alaska Geological Society and ConocoPhillips welcome Kathryn Moran, an associate professor of ocean engineering and oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, to discuss findings from the 2004 Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) in a free public lecture on October 14. Cores collected from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program's ACEX mission are surprising many who believed the Arctic Ocean lacked sufficient remains to record evidence of ancient climate. Now scientists are able to analyze Earth's previous conditions through ribbons of ocean floor sediment taken from depths as deep as 1,300-feet below the sea floor.
Some of the cores taken were as old as 80 million years and subsequent analysis has uncovered clues about the Arctic Ocean's past. A particularly exciting find for the ACEX team was a hunk of sediment dated from 55 million years ago that contained animal and plant microfossils. These organisms are characteristic of subtropical waters, indicating the Arctic Ocean was once ice-free. In addition, other cores were chock-full of organic material that some believe may indicate the region holds significant oil and gas deposits.
Prior to the 2004 ACEX mission, the Arctic Ocean seafloor was never penetrated for scientific drilling. The ACEX team achieved a tremendous feat by withstanding thick moving sea ice on the ocean's surface, while drilling in waters more than 4,000-feet deep. The ACEX cores were collected from Lomonosov Ridge, a major submarine ridge that spans 1,100 miles and ends shy of the North Pole.
Moran is the second Geophysical Institute Endowment Lecturer of 2005. Her lecture, "Beneath the Ice: Coring the Arctic Ocean for Clues on Ancient Climate," will begin at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, October 14. The free lecture will be held in the ConocoPhillips Lecture Room ATO-1 in Anchorage.
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