Through the DYPOLE project, we increase the understanding of the complex interplay between geological processes that have formed the continental margin north of Svalbard/Barents Sea and adjacent areas of the Arctic Ocean. Key questions include: (1) How did the continent split up between the Lomonosov Ridge and the Barents shelf about 55 million years ago and how did the Arctic Ocean open up since then? (2) When was a deep-water connection established between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans through the Fram Strait, and how did this affect geological and oceanographic conditions? (3) How has this development affected the climate from "greenhouse" conditions with surface water temperatures of up to 25°C to "icehouse" conditions with extensive land and sea ice cover over the last 10-15 million years? (4) When and how was the Barents Shelf uplifted so that large volumes of rock were removed and transported into the Arctic Ocean, where they now provide a unique archive reflecting the geological and climatic development over millions of years?
These questions can only be answered interdisciplinary applying a wide range of data and methods. We study geological structures at depth using seismic data. We sample sediments and analyse their composition and age, which reflect details in the geological and climate histories. Some relevant data exist, but there is a need for new and better data from areas that offer major challenges due to sea ice conditions. The results are compared with Svalbard's geology, which gives unique insight into the geology and development of the Barents Shelf. In Svalbard, instruments will be deployed that register seismic waves from our surveys on the northern margin and in the Arctic Ocean, in addition to natural earthquakes. Through DYPOLE, we will increase interest in and knowledge about the Arctic Ocean. We want to strengthen collaboration both nationally and internationally and contribute to educating the next generation of polar researchers.
The main goal of the project is to obtain an understanding of the interplay between the various tectonic, magmatic, and sedimentary processes that have shaped the northern Barents Sea-Svalbard margin, caused continental breakup and variation in spatial and temporal oceanic accretion in the Eurasia Basin. Moreover, we aim to establish links between the tectono-magmatic history of the Cenozoic Arctic and oceanographic and climatic changes.
Three time intervals are particularly important in the development of the Eurasia Basin and adjacent regions in the Arctic: 1) Late Paleocene continental breakup and continental margin formation; 2) Early Eocene and Oligocene changes in seafloor spreading and Oligocene volcanic plateau emplacement; and 3) Neogene gateway opening, margin uplift and establishment of an icehouse Arctic.
Notably, these tectonic events seem to coincide with distinct climatic events that punctuated the Cenozoic greenhouse-icehouse transition, from surface-water temperatures of up to 25 °C during the Paleocene-Eocene, to icehouse conditions with extensive land and sea-ice cover from Miocene onward.
Each of the primary objectives will be addressed in a dedicated scientific work package (WP), but considerable amount of data, theoretical approach and methodology will be shared among the WPs: WP1: Breakup and crustal architecture; WP2: Eocene-Miocene crustal evolution of the Eurasia Basin; WP3: Greenhouse - Icehouse fluctuations in the Arctic: onset and origin. The project results will be integrated and synthesised in a separate WP4. We will combine a broad range of data and methods, and will employ a novel approach where the crustal, sedimentary and oceanographic data will be jointly presented and analysed. We will study in a multi-disciplinary and holistic way the formation of an enclosed oceanic basin in the polar region and the implications for ocean and climate dynamics.