US Expedition Heads to Arctic

Expedition joins scramble to lay claim to the Arctic
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2007 3:45 AM CDT
The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy is shown leaving Seattle Monday, Aug. 6, 2007, for a scientific mission in the Arctic that will include breaking ice well north of Barrow, Alaska. The seven-year-old...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Diving into the international scramble to grab parts of the Arctic, a US Coast Guard cutter is voyaging north this week to determine if any of the underwater territory can be claimed for America. The four-week expedition, which starts Friday, will use sonar technology to map the northern Chukchi Cap, an underwater plateau which extends from Alaska.

The expedition follows a dramatic flag-planting claim by Russia to ownership of the North Pole seabed and a declaration by Canada's prime minister to defend its territory. The disputed area, rich in mineral resources and governed by international treaties, is suddenly attractive as the melting polar ice cap makes the territory more accessible.