The 8th International Conference on Arctic Margins (ICAM VIII)

Victoria Pease

Despite our continuing on-shore and off-shore research efforts in the Arctic, our basic knowledge of earth science of the Arctic realm remains limited due to its remote and difficult accessibility, expensive and complicated logistics (working on boats, in sea ice, from helicopters, dealing with polar bears, etc.), and at times political constraints. We still debate fundamental issues such as how and when the Arctic Ocean basin formed and what type of rocks constitute it’s features; correlation of tectonic terranes and stratigraphy; glacial, Arctic Ocean ice, and sea level history; paleontology and archaeology; past climates; and extent and status of paraglacial environments and the cryosphere. The study of Arctic earth science is essential to understanding many aspects of the history and future of Earth, as well as its resource potential, environmental sensitivities, and claims to extended continental shelf territory under UNCLOS Article 76.

The International Conference on Arctic Margins (ICAM) was founded by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (formerly Minerals Management Service) in 1991, a time when research in the Arctic was entering a new phase of openness and cooperation to foster understanding and international collaboration in Arctic earth science. It has since become the premier conference dedicated to Arctic earth science. ICAM is an ad hoc independent forum and is not affiliated with any one organization or government. It is organized, hosted, funded and conducted by scientists for scientists on a volunteer basis, which makes it a unique forum. The U.S. hosted the first meeting in 1992 in Anchorage, Alaska, which was a great success. Subsequent meetings have been held in Magadan, Russia in 1994, Celle, Germany in 1998, Halifax, Canada in 2003, Tromso, Norway in 2007, Fairbanks, Alaska in 2010, and Trondheim, Norway in 2015.

The most recent ICAM was in Stockholm, Sweden in 2018 and hosted by Stockholm University. It was attended by c. 90 persons from ten different countries. This volume is one of the results of ICAM VIII and its contents reflects the breadth of science presented at ICAM VIII with the diversity of the eleven manuscripts ranging from zircon U-Pb geochronology (both sedimentary and igneous rocks) to geophysics (gravity and reflection/refraction seismics) to glendonites (a calcite pseudomorph of the low-temperature, meta-stable mineral ikaite). The papers are broadly grouped by method and then by age from youngest to oldest. The first contribution by Vasilyeva et al. documents the δ18O and δ13C signatures of the bulk rock glendonite and its diagenetic cement from Jurassic sediments of the NE Russian platform.

The next set of papers relate to igneous geochronology and geochemistry. Kostyleva et al. present new descriptive and glass geochemical data for the depositional context and paleontological age constraints associated with four sub-alkaline, high-K rhyolitic ash layers. Moiseev et al. focus on plagiogranites from the West Koryak fold belt, NE Russia. They present new U-Pb zircon ages for both Ediacaran and Permo-Triassic units and use geochemistry to confirm their arc settings. Koglin et al. present U-Pb zircon data indicating that a serpentinite from the Voykar Massif, Polar Urals is c. 542 Ma – they argue for zircon recycling via a subduction zone proximal to a continental margin.

The next three papers relate to U-Pb detrital zircon (DZ) geochronology. Khudoley et al. present a reconnaissance investigation of the Triassic-Jurassic clastic rocks from Franz Josef Land and drill cores in the Russian Barents Sea. They document changes in both the DZ ages and in sediment chemistry which they interpret to reflect a late Triassic provenance shift. Investigating the provenance of Devonian-Carboniferous clastic rocks, Prokopiev et al. correlate specific age peaks with known magmatic events and use this information to present revised paleotectonic reconstructions for the Devonian and Carboniferous. Presenting Mesoproterozoic to lower Cambrian DZ results from the St. Petersburg region, Ershova et al. use this data to infer the distal transport of Timanian detritus further onto the shield than previously thought.

Two papers involve methods other than U-Pb geochronology. Using K-Ar dating and illite crystallinity, Meinhold et al. suggest that a c. 390–400 Ma tectono-thermal event recorded in the Gaissa Nappe Complex restricted to local shear zones was likely related to the late stage of Scandian orogenesis. Knudsen et al. present 40Ar-39Ar (biotite) and DZ from Franz Josef Land. Combined with previously published 40Ar-39Ar (muscovite) data, a Caledonian thermal overprint is invoked to extend the Caledonian deformation front to the east of Franz Josef Land.

The final two papers in this volume focus on geophysical methods. Coakley et al. summarize the Arctic Gravity Project, which aims to present an improved data grid for the Arctic Ocean region in 2020. Jackson et al. present new data summarizing wide angle reflection and refraction data of the Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge. They argue for its genesis as a large igneous province, compare it to the Kerguelen Plateau, and suggest it also has continental affinities.

I would like to thank all the participants for making it a great meeting. We had a great “Icebreaker” at Stockholm’s beautiful city hall (thank you city of Stockholm!) and we had beautiful weather at the conference dinner to enjoy the wonderful music of the Stockholm Stompers! I’d also like to thank all the folks at SU who assisted with the success of the meeting, especially Ines Jakobsson and Björn Eriksson, and of course my co-editors and all the folks who reviewed the manuscripts for this volume – peer review is an important part of our scientific process.

The next ICAM meeting (IX) will be hosted by Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa on June 14–17, 2021. The venue will be the beautiful National Gallery of Canada and we look forward to seeing you there!

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