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Nuclear submarine in action for science

Researchers supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) are sailing aboard a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine in April to map the oceanic ridges and basins beneath the Arctic ice cap and study ocean currents that may have an affect on global climate.

NSF is mounting Scientific Ice Expedition (SCICEX) '99 in cooperation with the U.S. Navy and the Office of Naval Research. The exercise is the fifth in a series of annual SCICEX missions.

The SCICEX team will examine the Gakkel Ridge, the slowest spreading mid ocean ridge in the world. Although the ridges usually are sites of volcanic activity, scientists expect to find fewer eruptions there. Less volcanism may make it possible to better understand the other processes that contribute to the creation of oceanic crust.

Scientists also will look for evidence of glacial scouring on the Chukchi Borderland off Alaska that could provide evidence of the extent and depth of ice cover during the last Ice Age. They also will examine the Lomonosov Ridge to obtain clues as to how the Amerasian basin, one of several basins in the Arctic, may have formed. This year's SCICEX mission includes an unusual venture into Norwegian territorial waters to study undersea sediments on the Yermak Plateau.

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Updated January 28, 2002