Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 156

T
he Arctic contains some of the world’s largest provinces of
natural resources, including world class petroleum-
bearing regions and several provinces with significant
volumes of metals and industrial minerals. Climatic changes, with
decreasing ice cover, open up new opportunities and challenges
for the exploitation of natural resources and for transport in the
Arctic. Previously inaccessible mineral resources can more easily
be exploited.
In order to assess mineral resources in the Arctic, basic geological
and geophysical data and knowledge are needed. Data collection
and operations in the Arctic are challenging and costly, and
answers to key scientific questions related to the geological history
and evolution of the Arctic can only be properly solved through
international co-operation. The European Union is active in
research on climatic change, Arctic ecosystems, safe shipping and
reducing chemical pollutants. Less emphasis has been put on
basic Earth science research needed to model and understand
spatial distribution of the geological resources in the European
Arctic, an area which stretches from Greenland to the Urals.
The economic opportunities, technical challenges and
environmental risks in the Arctic are to a large extent related to
the exploitation of the potential geological resources.
Mineral resources are unevenly distributed, and all occurrences,
with their range of quantities and qualities, are directly linked to
the geological histories and processes of the different Arctic
regions. Step number one would therefore be to explore where the
resources are located.
Uniting the Arctic
Co-operation on production of modern and accurate geological
and geophysical data and maps is a neccessary step towards a
common understanding of the potential and limitations of the
natural resources. Following an initiative taken by the Russian
Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology and the Federal
Agency of Mineral Resources 12 years ago, international co-
operation on compiling a new generation of Circum-Arctic
geological and geophysical maps (in scale 1:5,000,000) has
been undertaken by a consortium of national agencies from
Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the
USA.
1
The polar stereographic maps include onshore and offshore
geological coverage to 60°N. The bedrock map and database was
first published in 2008, the geophysical maps were completed in
2010, and a tectonic map is currently in progress. The new
Circum-Arctic maps are formally published under the Commission
for the Geological Map of the World. A metallogenic map and
The Arctic is one of Earth’s last frontiers in the sense of unexplored
mineral resources
Exploring the Arctic frontiers
156
I S S U E S I X
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
P R O F I L E
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N V I R O N M E N T
Longyearbyen on Svalbard was established by and named after John
Munro Longyear, whose Arctic Coal Company started coal mining
operations in 1906. Operations were taken over by Store Norske
Spitsbergen Kulkompani in 1916, which still conducts mining today
Gravity map of the Circum-Arctic, with Bouguer gravity anomaly data
onshore and free-air gravity anomaly data offshore, at a grid resolution
of 10 x 10km in a polar stereographic projection (source: NGU/Gaina
et al.
2010)
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