ICAM 2011: Summary of Conference, Fairbanks, Alaska

  ICAM VI Logo  
(Fairbanks, Alaska, May 31-June 2, 2011)

Hosted by the Geophysical Institute and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

ICAM VI was convened by Bernard Coakley (UAF) together with David Stone (UAF), Garrik Grikurov (VNIIO), Haarald Brekke (NPD), James Clough (ADGGS), Ruth Jackson (GSC ret), Paul Layer (UAF), Naja Mikkelsen (GEUS), Victoria Pease (Uppsala), and Dennis Thurston (BOEM).

  • More than 130 participants from the U.S., Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
  • 77 Oral presentations
  • 45 Posters
  • 5 Thematic Sessions
  • Sponsored by BP Alaska, Shell, ConocoPhillips and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Survey.

The program can be obtained from www.gi.alaska.edu/icam6. Abstracts and outlines of talks and posters submitted by their authors was published as “UAF Geophysical Institute Report UAG-R-335, 2012” and is available at http://www2.gi.alaska.edu/ICAMVI

General Session Topics

  • Hydrocarbon potential and gas hydrates;
  • Science issues relating to UNCLOS Article 76;
  • Geodynamic Significance of Arctic Magmatism;
  • Vertical Motions in the Arctic, Tectonic and Glacial;
  • Geology and palaeogeography of the Arctic continental margins;
  • Evolution of the Arctic Ocean basins, including plate reconstructions, magmatism and sedimentology;
  • Modern Arctic environments, including geological, climatic and oceanographic processes;
  • Recent advances in Arctic research technology.

In addition to the presentations there was ample time for discussion at the Student Union pub for lunch and poster lessions, and during the evening dinner excursions to the Pioneer Park outdoor Salmon Bake, and a Dinner cruise down the Chena River. (For photos of these activities, a CD is available and can be downloaded from: http://www2.gi.alaska.edu/ICAMVI.

One highlight of the meeting was the wealth of new data on display, much of it collected to support Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) claims under Article 76 of the Law of the Sea treaty. To establish the seaward limit of their territory, it is necessary for each country to identify the 2500 meter isobaths and the foot of slope from bathymetric data. Seismic reflection and refraction data are used to estimate sediment thickness. Using the process laid out in Article 76, it is possible to estimate the limits of a state’s subaqueous territory.

The circum-arctic states; Greenland, Canada, Russia and the US have organized and executed Arctic Ocean cruises, airborne geophysics campaigns and ice island expeditions over the last ten years to collect the bathymetry, seismic reflection, seismic refraction and potential fields data to support their delimitation of territorial limits. Each of these data sets are a kind of remote sensing, mostly relying on sound to illuminate the seafloor and underlying stratigraphy. These programs have also collected seafloor samples, both by dredge and core, to support the geophysical interpretations.

While these are marine geophysical surveys, they are planned not to answer science questions, but to characterize the seafloor and sediments at a particular length scale, typically about 100 km. Because the surveys are not hypothesis-driven, they have visited places that could not be justified under a science proposal. As a result, we can glimpse surprising and unexpected observations in the ECS data sets. The surprises are just starting to emerge into the wider scientific community, to be incorporated into the larger body of knowledge about the Arctic Ocean and to become the basis for planning future cruises to answer the questions these unexpected observations pose. We think it likely that these data will be the basis for a new revolution in our understanding of the Arctic Ocean and its history.

ICAM Student Recognition Awards
These first time awards went to Anne Hegewald for the Outstanding Oral Presentation, Sedimentary structures and horizon ages in the Amerasian Basin between the Chukchi Plateau and Mendeleev Ridge and to Sonja Suckro for the Outstanding Poster Presentation, Tectonic evolution of southern Baffin Bay: implications from a refraction survey. Awards were sponsored by the Alaska Geological Society and University of Alaska Geophysical Institute.

Field Trips

Geology, tectonics and gold mineralization of the Fairbanks area.

Day One focused on the broad geologic setting of the Fairbanks area, with eclogite facies rocks on top of amphibolite facies rocks on top of greenschist facies rocks. Igneous rocks include the within-plate early Tertiary basalt and the mid-Cretaceous subduction-related plutons. Day Two examined mining and mineralization in the Fairbanks area including a trip to Fort Knox, an open pit mine with 3.6 million troy ounces of proven and probable reserves. 2010 gold production at Fort Knox was 349,729 troy ounces of gold. The Fairbanks mining district is a northeast trending belt of lode and placer gold deposits that comprise one of the largest gold producing areas in the state of Alaska. Led by Rainer Newberry, Professor, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Stratigraphy, sedimentology and paleoenvironment of the Cantwell Formation, Denali National Park, Alaska.

The Cantwell Formation of central Alaska comprises a late Cretaceous plant fossil, and dinosaur and bird track-bearing fluvial-alluvial fan sequence and an overlying Paleocene to Eocene predominantly volcanic succession. The formation is located between two fault strands forming the northern bend of the arcuate transcontinental Denali strike-slip fault. The sediments were deposited following the accretion of the Wrangellia Terrane. The trip explored canyons and steep drainages cut into mountains composed entirely of overlying Cantwell Formation and a thick section of volcanic flows pierced by numerous mafic and felsic subvolcanic intrusions. The participants also saw a particularly fossiliferous section and look at facies distributions, plant fossils, invertebrate traces and vertebrate tracks. The rocks of the sedimentary Cantwell formation are interpreted as having been deposited in a variety of closely spaced ancient river, lake, alluvial plain and alluvial fan floodplain sedimentary environments. The boundaries between finest-grained and coarser-grained sedimentary facies commonly preserve vertebrate and invertebrate tracks and plant fossils plus numerous large theropod and hadrosaur footprints. The finer-grained facies preserve delicate invertebrate traces and angiosperm leaf, fern frond, and conifer shoot, cone, seed and wood impressions. Field trip led by Paul McCarthy (Professor) and Suzzane Tomsich (PhD candidate), Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

The Proceedings of the International Conference on Arctic Margins VI, Fairbanks, Alaska, May 2011 edited by: David B. Stone, Garrik E. Grikurov, James G. Clough, Gordon N. Oakey and Dennis K. Thurston are available from the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks at http://www2.gi.alaska.edu/icam6/.


The local organizers headed by Bernard Coakley, would like to thank the university staff and students for their part, and particularly the Pub staff who helped oil the wheels of communication.