Maps of the Arctic Basin Sea Floor. Part II: Bathymetry and Gravity of the Alpha Ridge: The 1983 CESAR Expedition


  • J.R. Weber



Bathymetry, Canadian Expedition to Study the Alpha Ridge, Expeditions, Gravity measurement, Maps, Marine geology, SLAR, Alpha Ridge, Arctic Ocean


The general scarcity of geophysical data in the Arctic Ocean Basin and the lack of knowledge about the evolution of the Amerasia Basin and of the nature and origin of the Alpha Ridge led, in 1983, to the undertaking of a multidisciplinary polar expedition, code-named CESAR 83 for Canadian Expedition to Study the Alpha Ridge. The expedition was supported by the Canadian Armed Forces, first by parachuting 18 airborne engineers onto the CESAR site to build a 1.6 km long airstrip on the pack ice, and then by deploying and two months later evacuating the expedition by military Hercules aircraft. .... One of the major CESAR accomplishments was a regional bathymetric and gravity survey over the Ellesmere Island continental shelf and eastern part of the Alpha Ridge. Using the CESAR data as well as all publicly available data collected over the past 35 years, 100 contour interval bathymetric maps and 5 mGal contour intervale gravity free-air anomaly maps were compiled. These extend from the Ellesmere Island coast to the 116 degrees W meridian. The sea floor maps depict the Alpha Ridge as a very broad mountain complex of rugged topography with ridges and valleys trending parallel to the ridge axis. ... Elliptically shaped positive anomalies centered over the continental shelf break suggest that the continental margin adjacent to the Alpha Ridge has the typical Atlantic-type structure characteristic of the rest of the North American polar margin. Preliminary interpretation of the gravity field indicates that the Alpha Ridge crust is composed of very thick rocks of laterally uniform density and composition. It is suggested that the eastern part of the Alpha Ridge may be a massive accumulation of mafic rocks of probable oceanic origin formed by volcanic activity. This article is identified as Part II of a series on "Maps of the Arctic Basin Sea Floor" and is preceded by a "A History of Bathymetry and its Interpretation" (Webster, 1983).

Key words: CESAR 83 expedition, Alpha Ridge, bathymetry, gravity, sea ice SLAR imagery