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More submarine territoriality

August 6, 2007

My previous post dealt with Russia’s claim of that the Arctic’s Lomonosov Ridge belongs to them since it once was part of the Siberian continental shelf. It seems Argentina may have some issues about what part of the submarine landscape is theirs as well. Check out this short article from IPS (via geology.com). I don’t have the time right now to dig into this one in any detail, but here’s a blurb:

To draw up a definitive proposal for its maritime border, in 1997 Argentina created the National Commission of the Continental Platform Exterior Limit (COPLA), an inter-ministerial technical team that reportedly has already gathered 90 percent of the information necessary to demonstrate exactly where its territory covered by the ocean comes to an end.

Countries with ocean coasts have sovereign rights over the sea bed and subsoil to 200 nautical miles from land, which is known as the exclusive economic zone, or to where its continental platform ends, including the slope, up to a maximum of 350 miles. That includes the platform’s natural resources, but not the water that covers it.

The data obtained in laboratories and sea missions will have to be presented before May 2009 to the Commission on Continental Platform Boundaries, a technical body of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will decide whether to authorise the new border demarcation.

Unfortunately, this article does not show a map of the area in question (wouldn’t the citizens of this globe be so much more knowledgeable of geography if maps were always included?! …. but I digress).

Below is a map showing the topography and bathymetry of southern South America. The Argentine continental margin is a very different geologic situation than the one I discussed in the last post. This is a passive margin with a relatively wide continental shelf.

Argentina may have a better argument than Russia on this one. At least the shelf is still attached to the continent here.


If anyone, especially anyone reading this from South America, knows any more details about this, please don’t hesitate to post a comment.

Click on the image to go to the source.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. CJR permalink
    August 7, 2007 9:01 am

    I think the real dispute is with the UK over the area around the Falklands…

  2. Brian permalink
    August 7, 2007 9:28 am

    yeah, the Argentines have said in the past that since the Malvinas…er, I mean Falklands islands are part of their continental shelf, they should have them…

  3. Miguel Vera permalink
    August 7, 2007 3:49 pm

    You’re both right. The COPLA as Brian posted has almost finished determining the exact portion of shelf that should belong to them according to the Law of the Sea, in order to claim it of course. I found a short paper (.pdf in spanish with a couple not so good maps) with more info about it.

    As far as I know, and I think Brian and me have read the same news, is that the UK also wants to claim their portion of shelf, but according to technical studies the islands are inside Argentina’s shelf.

  4. Brian permalink
    August 7, 2007 3:59 pm

    thanks Miguel…i’ll check out that paper

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