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Bolstered by geological and geophysical data: Total Area of Norway expanded

Date:
May 11, 2010
Source:
Research Council of Norway
Summary:
Basic research played a key role in expanding the total area of Norway by nearly 250,000 square kilometres in 2009. Knowledge acquired from a ten-year-old basic research project on geologic conditions of the oceanic crust proved invaluable in ultimately successful negotiations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. While the previous boundary was set at 200 nautical miles, the new boundary is based on specific geologic conditions. The basic geological research carried out proved to be invaluable for establishing the size of the Norwegian continental shelf and helped to clarify who has the rights and responsibilities in the various maritime areas.

Bolstered by geological and geophysical data:Total area of Norway expandedKnowledge acquired from a ten-year-old basic research project on geologic conditions of the oceanic crust proved invaluable in ultimately successful negotiations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2009.

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While the previous boundary was set at 200 nautical miles, the new boundary is based on specific geologic conditions.

Mapped the seabed

Professor Rolf-Birger Pedersen, head of the Centre for Geobiology at the University of Bergen, led the research activities that resulted in the expansion.

He explains:"The Research Council allocated funding to the SUBMAR project [Surface Biosphere, Hydrothermal Activity and Magmatism along the Arctic Ridges] in 1999. Among other topics, the project was to study volcanic mid-ocean ridges in the North Greenland Sea with the help of remote-controlled mini-submarines. The researchers planned to conduct dives along the underwater mountain walls to investigate how deeper parts of the oceanic crust are built up. One objective was to gain a better understanding of how the oceanic crust is formed through volcanic processes and to study chemical and biological processes that occur when saltwater, the Earth's crust and the Earth's mantle meet."

Little did the researchers know that the knowledge they obtained on geologic conditions in the Norwegian Sea would have such practical significance for the size of the Norwegian continental shelf and would play a key role in international law of the sea negotiations.

Claim supported by research findings

In April 2009 the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf fully approved Norway's claim to an additional area of continental shelf. Norway's Exclusive Economic Zone -- the area in which a coastal state has sovereign rights to natural resources in the sea and above and below the seabed -- was increased by 10 per cent.

"The new boundaries are drawn where the ocean plains give way to the continental slope. There is room for interpretation here, so claims have to be bolstered by geological and geophysical data," says Professor Pedersen. This is precisely the data the researchers on the SUBMAR project at the Universities of Bergen, Tromsø and Oslo were able to provide.

"The basic geological research carried out proved to be invaluable for establishing the size of the Norwegian continental shelf and helped to clarify who has the rights and responsibilities in the various maritime areas," asserts Rolf Einar Fife, Director General of the Legal Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr Fife led the Norwegian delegation involved in the negotiations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Research Council of Norway. The original article was written by Synnøve Bolstad/Else Lie; translation by Victoria Coleman/Carol B. Eckmann. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Research Council of Norway. "Bolstered by geological and geophysical data: Total Area of Norway expanded." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510114445.htm>.
Research Council of Norway. (2010, May 11). Bolstered by geological and geophysical data: Total Area of Norway expanded. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510114445.htm
Research Council of Norway. "Bolstered by geological and geophysical data: Total Area of Norway expanded." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510114445.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

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