Following Canada's ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2003, the Geological Survey of Canada was tasked with mapping the seafloor to determine the seaward extent of Canada's continental shelves in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.
The new outer limit of the extended continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean, based on the Survey research, was filed with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2013. Pending international ratification, it could add 1.2 million square kilometers of offshore lands, giving Canada jurisdiction over the living and non-living natural resources found on and below the seafloor.
Starting in 2006, the Survey carried out fieldwork to collect geophysical data and geological samples from the Arctic Ocean using heavy-duty icebreakers, autonomous underwater vehicles, and field camps on the ice. Surveys in the eastern Arctic, in the vicinity of the North Pole, were undertaken in 2014, 2015, and 2016. During each of these surveys, the icebreakers stopped at the North Pole to celebrate the remarkable feat of reaching the "Top of the World" and each time Survey researchers proudly raised the Canadian flag.