The area south of Greenland

The Southern Continental Shelf of Greenland is limited to the south-west by the 200 nautical mile (M) line of Canada and to the north-east by the 200 M line of Iceland. Since the shelf off South Greenland is relatively narrow, the sediment thickness or “Gardiner” formula will come into play in this area. The Eirik Ridge located southwest of Cape Farewell is part of the continental slope off South Greenland. In this area and off the eastern part of South Greenland the 60 M distance or “Hedberg” formula is used to define the outer limits of the continental shelf. None of these formula lines extends beyond the 350 M line from the baseline of Greenland, which is one of two constraint lines according to Article 76 in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Investigations within the Continental Shelf project in this area have primarily focused on

  • Collection of bathymetric data to determine the foot of the continental slope
  • Collection of reflection seismic data to map the sediment thickness outside the foot of the continental slope
  • Acquisition of data that can characterize the nature of the Eirik Ridge i.e. refraction seismic data

The Continental Shelf Project has in 2003 and 2006 acquired reflection seismic data using commercial contractors in order to supplement existing older seismic data. In 2008 multibeam bathymetric data were collected along the continental slope and along strike profiles approximately 45 nautical miles apart. In 2009 refraction seismic data were collected in cooperation with Canada on a cruise with CCGS Hudson along and across the Eirik Ridge (project SIGNAL).
Furthermore the coverage of multibeam bathymetric data in the area was supplemented by data acquired during a 2009 German marine geological research cruise. Cooperation with Canada has also included exchange of data and joint interpretation projects.

On 14 June, 2012, the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark together with the Government of Greenland submitted documentation for an extended continental shelf beyond 200 M south of Greenland to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). The claimed area covers approximately 115.000 km2 south of Greenland and is divided into a south-western part in the Labrador Sea and an eastern part in the Irminger Sea (See also CLCS website).

Canada will likely have an overlapping claim in its forthcoming submission with the south-western part of the Southern Continental Shelf of Greenland. In relation to Canada an arrangement has been reached that the two states will not object to the consideration of their respective submissions by the CLCS. The final delimitation of boundaries between the two States will, as appropriate, be determined through a bilateral agreement.

The outer limits of Iceland proposed in its submission of 29 April 2009
overlap with the eastern part of the Southern Continental Shelf of Greenland. The matter is subject to consultations between the parties.

The Executive Summary of the submission can be downloaded here
(pdf-file ~2,5 mb).

The outer limits of the Southern Continental Shelf of Greenland beyond 200 M. Red lines show the 200 M lines of Greenland, Canada and Iceland respectively and the black lines show the agreed maritime boundaries with Canada and Iceland.

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