News FocusMarine Geology

Nations Look for an Edge in Claiming Continental Shelves

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Science  06 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5600, pp. 1877-1878
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5600.1877

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Under a little-known provision of international law, the United States, Russia, and dozens of other nations are preparing to divvy up some 15 million square kilometers of continental shelf, the submarine slope between the shoreline and the ocean bottom. The area contains valuable energy, mineral, and biological resources. But before governments can plant their flags, researchers must pinpoint where continents end and the abyss begins--and settle technical disagreements over how best to draw the boundary.