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Expanding the Cenozoic paleoceanographic record in the Central Arctic Ocean: IODP Expedition 302 Synthesis


The Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) proved to be one of the most transformational missions in almost 40 year of scientific ocean drilling. ACEX recovered the first Cenozoic sedimentary sequence from the Arctic Ocean and extended earlier piston core records from ≈1.5 Ma back to ≈56 Ma. The results have had a major impact in paleoceanography even though the recovered sediments represents only 29% of Cenozoic time. The missing time intervals were primarily the result of two unexpected hiatuses. This important Cenozoic paleoceanographic record was reconstructed from a total of 339 m sediments. The wide range of analyses conducted on the recovered material, along with studies that integrated regional tectonics and geophysical data, produced surprising results including high Arctic Ocean surface water temperatures and a hydrologically active climate during the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), the occurrence of a fresher water Arctic in the Eocene, ice-rafted debris as old as middle Eocene, a middle Eocene environment rife with organic carbon, and ventilation of the Arctic Ocean to the North Atlantic through the Fram Strait near the early-middle Miocene boundary. Taken together, these results have transformed our view of the Cenozoic Arctic Ocean and its role in the Earth climate system.

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Backman, J., Moran, K. Expanding the Cenozoic paleoceanographic record in the Central Arctic Ocean: IODP Expedition 302 Synthesis. Cent. Eur. J. Geosci. 1, 157–175 (2009).

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  • ocean drilling
  • Lomonosov Ridge
  • Cenozoic paleoceanography
  • Arctic tectonics