The U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Task Force, chaired by the Department of State, will conduct a joint 41-day mission with the Government of Canada this summer to collect scientific data about the continental shelf and ocean basins in the Arctic. The mission, scheduled from August 7 to September 16, will continue the U.S.-Canada collaboration begun last summer. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent will participate in the mission.
The 2009 continental shelf cruise will cover the region north of Alaska onto Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge and eastwards toward the Canada Archipelago. The joint collaboration saves millions of dollars for both countries by managing expensive Arctic field operations to maximize data collection while increasing scientific and diplomatic cooperation. The mission will help delineate the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean for the U.S. and Canada. Coastal States have sovereign rights over the natural resources of the seafloor on their continental shelves; both the U.S. and Canada will be collecting scientific information to satisfy the criteria for delineating the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles as set forth in the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Both the USCG Cutter Healy and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent alternately will break ice for the following ship during the mission. The Healy will map the seafloor using multibeam sonar while the Louis S. St-Laurent will collect multi-channel seismic reflection and refraction data aimed at determining sediment thickness. The current program is a continuation of a partnership between the U.S. and Canada begun in 2008. The two countries plan to continue Arctic cooperation in 2010.
In addition to the U.S. Department of State acting as chair, and the Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration acting as vice co-chairs, members of the Extended Continental Shelf Task Force are: the Executive Office of the President, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Science Foundation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Navy, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Minerals Management Service, and the Arctic Research Commission.
Additional information on the joint U.S.-Canadian Extended Continental Shelf cruise is available at: http://continentalshelf.gov and international.gc.ca/continental