Marine Geophysical Research

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 25–43 | Cite as

Paleo-bathymetry of the northern North Atlantic and consequences for the opening of the Fram Strait

Original Research Paper


In the past decade, the geophysical database in the northern North Atlantic and central Arctic Ocean constantly grew. Though far from being complete, the information from new aeromagnetic and seismic data north of the Jan Mayen Fracture Zone and in the Arctic Ocean, in combination with existing compiled geological and geophysical data, is used to produce paleo-bathymetric maps for several Cenozoic time intervals. This paleo-bathymetric model provides evidence for an initial deep-water exchange through the Fram Strait starting around 17 Ma. Furthermore, the model suggests that crustal rifting prior to initial seafloor spreading might have facilitated an earlier deep-water connection. This confirms that the paleo-topography of the Yermak Plateau played an important role in allowing at least the exchange of shallow water between the northern North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean before the opening of the deep-water Fram Strait gateway. In the south of the research area the paleo-bathymetric model indicates that the first possibility for a deep-water overflow from the Norwegian-Greenland Sea to the North Atlantic could have been between 15 and 20 Ma.


Arctic region Plate motions Sedimentary basin processes Tectonic and climate interactions 



We thank the captain and crews of RV Polarstern as well as the geophysical scientific parties for their excellent support during various expeditions. Special thanks to Aysel Sorensen for the language comments. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their comments and guidance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany

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