Letter | Published:

Baffin Bay—an Ocean


RECENT theories of the opening of the Atlantic Ocean and the Labrador Sea and of the relationship of the assumed motions to the history of Baffin Bay lead to contradictory opinions about the nature of the crust beneath the bay. The fit of the continents1 and the similarities of the rock types and their ages along the opposing coastlines of Greenland and Northern Canada2,3 suggest that the two have separated by continental drift. Geophysical studies in the Labrador Sea (unpublished work of X. Le Pichon, R. D. Hyndman and G. Pautot) imply that Baffin Bay was formed by seafloor spreading and therefore that oceanic crust should lie beneath it. Conversely, from an interpretation of the geology along the coastlines, the present configuration of the bay has been attributed to the extension of continental material and subsequent faulting among its margins4. The latter hypothesis is supported by a study of surface waves5 which showed that the Lg phase is transmitted across the area. This surface wave is generally associated only with continental crustal structure. The lack of any positive evidence which could be used to resolve this controversy prompted us to conduct the experiment described here.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Bullard, E. C., Everett, J. E., and Smith, A. G., Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., A, 258, 41 (1965).

  2. 2

    Rosenkrantz, A., and Pulvertaft, T. C. R., Amer. Assoc. Petrol. Geol. Mem., 12, 883 (1969).

  3. 3

    Wilson, J. T., Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., A, 258, 145 (1965).

  4. 4

    Kerr, J. W., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 2, 283 (1967).

  5. 5

    Oliver, J., Ewing, M., and Press, F., Bull. Geol. Soc. Amer., 66, 1063 (1955).

  6. 6

    Baffin Bay 1963 CODC Data Record Series No. 7 (1967).

  7. 7

    Raitt, R. W., The Sea, 3 (edit. by Hill, M. N.), 82 (1963).

  8. 8

    Talwani, M., Le Pichon, X., and Ewing, M., J. Geophys. Res., 70, 341 (1965).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.