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2008 Joint United States-Canadian program to explore the limits of the Extended Continental Shelf aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy--Cruise HLY0806

January 9, 2013

In September 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Natural Resources Canada, Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), conducted bathymetric and geophysical surveys in the Arctic Beaufort Sea aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Healy. The principal objective of this mission to the high Arctic was to acquire data in support of delineation of the outer limits of the U.S. and Canadian Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) in the Arctic Ocean in accordance with the provisions of Article 76 of the Law of the Sea Convention.

The Healy was accompanied by the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St- Laurent. The science parties on the two vessels consisted principally of staff from the USGS (Healy), and the GSC and the Canadian Hydrographic Service (Louis). The crew included marine mammal and Native-community observers, ice observers, and biologists conducting research of opportunity in the Arctic Ocean.

The joint survey proved an unqualified success. The Healy collected 5,528 km of swath (multibeam) bathymetry (38,806 km2) and CHIRP subbottom profile data, with accompanying marine gravity measurements. The Louis acquired 2,817 km of multichannel seismic (airgun) deep-penetration reflection-profile data along 12 continuous lines, as well as 35 sonobuoy refraction stations and accompanying single-beam bathymetry. The coordinated efforts of the two vessels resulted in seismic-reflection profile data of much higher quality and continuity than if the data had been acquired with a single vessel alone. Equipment failure rate of the seismic equipment gear aboard the Louis was greatly improved with the advantage of having a leading icebreaker. When ice conditions proved too severe to deploy the seismic system, the Louis led the Healy, resulting in much improved quality of the swath bathymetry and CHIRP sub-bottom data in comparison with data collected by the Healy in the lead or working alone. Ancillary science objectives, including ice observations, deployment of ice-monitoring buoys and water-column sampling for biologic (phytoplankton) studies, were also successfully accomplished.