In 2002 funding for permafrost research at Centre d’études nordiques, Université Laval was obtained from the Government of Québec to support the networks of automated meteorological stations and permafrost temperature cables across Nunavik (Northern Québec) as well as to update the database. A recent and rapid warming trend causing concern for the safety of existing infrastructure was the main cause of the renewed interest and funding of the permafrost monitoring activity.Data on the recent change from a cooling trend between 1945 and 1995 to the ongoing warming was presented at the permafrost session of the American Geophysical Union in December 2002.

 

A new research project began in summer 2002 in the community of Salluit to address the diffi culties created by permafrost warming in Nunavik. The project is supported by the Ministry of Public Safety of Québec and the local indigenous governments. Salluit is located in the continuous permafrost zone on the southern shore of Hudson Strait (62°N). The village lies in the bottom of a narrow valley and is mostly built on frozen saline and ice-rich marine silty clay. In order to satisfy the needs of the increasing population for land development, a high accuracy assessment (mapping scale of 1: 2000) of permafrost conditions is being done. The aim is to build a 3D geological and thermal model that will support decision making for land management. The Geological Survey of Canada is providing logistical support and participating in geophysical surveys. Thermistor cables and dataloggers were installed in some of the many new drillholes. Fieldwork in summer 2003 will be mainly directed to measurements of geotechnical properties.

Collaboration with Germany’s BGR (See Germany report) continued near Umiujaq where instrumented palsas and lithalsas are being monitored. Work begun in 1999 on Bylot island in the high Canadian Arctic (see last year’s report) also continued. Contacts: Michel Allard/Richard Fortier.

There is a record amount of development activity occurring in the Northwest Territories, all of which consider the impact of permafrost conditions. Developments include production and expansion of the Ekati (BHP) Diamond Mine, development of the new Diavik diamond mine, and oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort Delta, Sahtu and Fort Liard regions. In addition, the Mackenzie Valley Producers Group earlier this year fi led a letter of intent related to the future development of a Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline. In support of all these activities, transportation systems and municipal infrastructure must continue to be upgraded and expanded to meet the increased demands resulting from the activity. All of this development points to signifi cant future construction in permafrost areas.

Several studies by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) continued in the western Arctic, supported by the federal Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD). The outputs will support evaluation of resource development, pipeline routing options, geotechnical engineering, land-use decisions and environmental assessments of northern development in the Mackenzie Delta, Mackenzie Valley corridor and southern Yukon. Monitoring of creep of permafrost slopes continues at the new warm permafrost site near Wrigley, central Mackenzie Valley, and at 3 sites in cold permafrost in the Mackenzie Delta area. The establishment of a second site for study of warm permafrost slope creep is planned for Yukon in 2003. A report on deep seated rotational failures in ice-bonded permafrost, based on GSC fi eld work conducted in the latter part of the 1990s, is underway and will discuss rotational failures in frozen and thawing Cretaceous shales, active-layer detachments triggered by forest fi re, rotational failures in glacial sediments along the banks of the Mackenzie River, and climateinduced failures as recorded by tree disturbance.

Digital, GIS compatible, geotechnical, geothermal and related, data base development and analysis continued for the western Arctic. Investigations at permafrost-pipeline interaction study sites installed in the mid 1980s and expanded in 1990s continues, as do those at the network of active-layer and permafrost monitoring sites throughout the MackenzieValley and Delta. Contacts: S.Smith, L Dyke, M.Burgess, F.Wright and M. Nixon.

During March 2002 a capacitive-coupled electrical resistivity survey was conducted on Richards Island, Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories by the Canadian Geological Survey.In this new geophysical technique, an electric current is applied to the ground via a transmitter dipole and the resulting potential is measured at a receiver dipole using capacitive coupling rather than direct electrical contact. This method has an advantage over galvanic resistivity methods in areas where surface resistivity is extremely high and electrode contact would be problematic. Since direct contact with the soil is not required, a capacitive-coupled system can be moved continuously across a snow-covered surface. Measurements were made at 1 metre intervals along a 3800 m long traverse by towing the system behind a snowmobile at a speed of 7 km/hr. Dipole spacings were varied from 10 to 100 m to produce an image of subsurface electrical resistivity to depths of up to 30 metres. Using two-dimensional inversion software, an electrical resistivity section was obtained from which ice content could be interpreted. The method was found to be very effective in mapping icebearing sediments, especially zones of massive ice where electrical resistivity is extremely high. Excellent correlation was found with the results of a ground-penetrating radar survey and with ice content that has been measured in drill cores. Contact: T. Calvert.

Field surveys were undertaken by the Geological Survey of Canada in 2002 to investigate coastal stability and vertical ground motion west from the Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories to Kugluktuk, Nunavut. Onshore and nearshore coastal profi les were measured at four communities and in a waterfowl nesting area. GPS receivers were installed at Holman, Sachs Harbour and Kugluktuk to measure vertical motions across the boundary from submergence in the west to emergence in the east. These surveys were augmented by acquisition of highresolution (< 1m) satellite imagery. The research is being funded by the GSC, the federal Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD), and the Canadian Space Agency with partners in the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing. Contact: S. Solomon.

Wayne Pollard, McGill University and his students have been studying saline springs in the Canadian High Arctic in order to better understand the nature of permafrost hydrology and as analogues for environments which may host life on Mars. He has also been investigating the use of remotely sensed imagery for understanding permafrost stability and activelayer processes.

In March 2002, a collaborative project between the Geological Survey of Canada and Hanne H. Christiansen of the Danish Technical University (ARTEK) received support from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, under the Northern Dimension of Canada’s Foreign Policy (NDFP). The project involves the rescue and compilation of permafrost thermal data from Greenland for submission to the Global Terrestrial Network Permafrost, and documentation and comparative analysis of recent trends in permafrost conditions in Greenland and the adjacent Canadian Arctic. Environment Canada is also a partner in the analysis. Contact: S. Smith.

A web site is currently being developed for the Canadian Permafrost Monitoring Network by the GSC and will be eventually available through the GSC’s permafrost web site. The web site provides information on the monitoring network and will act as a data submission and dissemination node. A request for site metadata has been sent to Canadian permafrost researchers and metadata currently available may be accessed through the web site.

The GSC is collaborating with Environment Canada, with support from the Government of Canada’s Action Plan 2000, to establish snow depth monitoring stations at selected GSC permafrost monitoring sites. In summer 2002, three snow stations were installed at CFS Alert,Nunavut and one station was installed at both Baker Lake, Nunavut and near Wrigley, NWT. An additional fi ve to seven stations will be installed in summer 2003. Contact S. Smith.

In early April 2002, the Government of Canada announced it would contribute $6.1 million over fi ve years to expand research efforts in Canada’s North, through six new Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) university research Chairs. As one of the new chairs, Dr. Christopher Burn (Carleton University) will research the stability of the permafrost regions of northwest Canada, examining, among other things, effects of variable winter weather in valleys, forest fi res, as well as the re-freezing of ground in the vicinity of tailing ponds. Supporters and partners of Dr. Burn include the Village of Mayo and First Nation of Na Cho Nyak Dun, Yukon Parks and the Water Resources Division, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Aurora Research Institute, and Yukon College.

Discussions were held at the Canadian Geotechnical Society’s Annual Conference, in the Cold Regions Division, over the need for research and for training of ‘permafrost’ scientists and engineers, in connection with the major geotechnical developments in the North. Gas pipeline construction and treatment of ground contamination in cold regions are two areas of particular concern. The incoming President of the Society, Suzanne Lacasse (Executive Director, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute), spoke of the need for multinational, multidisciplinary approaches to research and education, with more effective collaboration between all concerned with major projects.

The Cold Regions Division of the Canadian Geotechnical Society was pleased to recently present Dr. Peter Williams with the 2003 Roger Brown Award. The award honours him for his excellence in the fi eld of permafrost throughout his long career. Early in his career Dr. Williams began working at the Division of Building Research at the National Research Council, alongside Roger Browne. Dr. Williams then became a professor at Carleton University where he carried out extensive research on the freezing of soils. Peter also developed and directed the fi eld-scale experiment on frost heave around pipelines that were conducted at Caen, Normandy, in a joint France-Canada partnership. Signifi cant publications include his textbook “The Frozen Earth: Fundamentals of Geocryology”, co-authored with Michael Smith, and his popular short book “Pipelines and Permafrost”. His landmark paper, “Hydraulic conductivity of frozen soils” by Burt and Williams, demonstrated the movement of water through frozen soils. These results contributed to assessment of the feasibility of operating chilled gas pipelines in the Mackenzie Valley in the 1970’s. Peter now divides his time between the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge and Carleton University, where he is active in bringing to English publication; Russian books, journal articles, and maps that would be otherwise inaccessible to westerners.

We would like to thank Michel Allard for serving as the Chair of the Canadian National Committee for the IPA (CNC-IPA) for the past 2.5 years. In mid 2002 we welcomed Brian Moorman as the new Chair. Web: GSC permafrost: sts.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/permafrost Canadian Permafrost Monitoring Network: iss.gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/canpfnetwork/index.htm

Margo Burgess (mburgess@nrcan.gc.ca)