A US Coast Guard cutter will set out on Thursday on a three-week trip to map a relatively unexplored area known as the Chukchi borderland, about 600 miles north of Alaska.More on the Chukchi borderland here.
The cutter Healy will then launch again on September 6 accompanied by Canadian scientists aboard an icebreaker, who will conduct further tests to help identify the extent of the continental shelf north of Alaska.
The US is attempting to prove the Alaskan continental shelf stretches far beyond the 200-mile limit where coastal countries have sovereign rights over natural resources.
The joint operation comes amid increasing international competition to tap the Arctic's unexplored energy stores, thought to include 90 billion barrels of oil, about 15 per cent of the world's undiscovered reserves, as well as a third of the world's undiscovered natural gas, according to the US Geological Survey.
Russia has claimed 460,000 square miles of Arctic waters and in a move marking the escalating rivalry, planted its flag on the ocean floor of the North Pole last summer.
Recent record oil prices have fuelled the race to exploit the polar territory's energy sources while melting ice floes have helped research crews gain access to the region.
Earlier reports on the Russians and the "great Arctic Sea land rush" here, here, here, here, and here.