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Heat flow in the Western Arctic Ocean (Amerasian Basin)

July 10, 2019

From 1963 to 1973 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) measured heat flow at 356 sites in the Amerasian Basin (Western Arctic Ocean) from a drifting ice island (T-3). The resulting measurements, which are unevenly distributed on Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge (AMR) and in Canada and Nautilus basins, greatly expand available heat flow data for the Arctic Ocean. Average T-3 heat flow is ~54.7 ± 11.3 mW m-2, and Nautilus Basin, including Mendeleev Plain, is the only well-surveyed area (~13% of data) with significantly higher average heat flow (63.8 mW m-2). Heat flow and bathymetry are not correlated at a large scale, and turbiditic surficial sediments (Canada and Nautilus basins) have higher heat flow than the sediments that blanket the AMR. Thermal gradients are mostly near-linear, implying that conductive heat transport dominates and that near-seafloor sediments are in thermal equilibrium with overlying bottom waters. Combining the heat flow data with modern seismic imagery suggests that some of the observed heat flow variability may be explained by local changes in sediment thickness or lithology or the presence of basement faults that channel circulating seawater. A thermal model that incorporates thermal conductivity variations along a profile from Canada Basin (thick sediment on mostly oceanic crust) to Alpha Ridge (thin sediment over thick magmatic units associated with the High Arctic Large Igneous Province) predicts heat flow lower than that observed on Alpha Ridge. This, along with other observations, implies that circulating fluids modulate conductive heat flow and contribute to high variability in the T-3 dataset. .

Publication Year 2019
Title Heat flow in the Western Arctic Ocean (Amerasian Basin)
DOI 10.1029/2019JB017587
Authors Carolyn D. Ruppel, A.H. Lachenbruch, Deborah Hutchinson, Robert Munroe, David Mosher
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Index ID 70204226
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center