Like many of our international colleagues, the 8th International Conference in Zurich was a highlight for the Canadian permafrost community, and an opportunity to renew friendships, exchange ideas and discuss new collaborations. This Canadian report is thus brief and touches upon a few select news items and recent developments.
A federal interdepartmental initiative, led by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), completed, in the summer of 2003, a bio-physical research gaps analysis for northern energy and pipeline development and associated government preparedness in the Mackenzie Valley. Short-term (two year) proposals addressing priority gaps have been funded and proposals for longer term (2 to 5 or more years) are under development. Short-term projects include several permafrost and terrain studies in the Mackenzie Valley and Delta—many of which will be led by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). Energy and pipeline related permafrost studies in the western arctic (onshore, coastal and offshore) also continued to be funded by the federal Panel on Energy Research and Development (PERD). (Contacts at the GSC: M. Burgess, S. Smith, F. Wright, S. Solomon, S. Dallimore). In summer 2003, the Mackenzie Gas Producers group filed a preliminary information package for a Mackenzie Valley Gas pipeline. The regulatory review process is expected to take place over a three-year period.
Beaufort Sea Scientific Cruise to Investigate Submarine Features: In September scientists from the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Monterey Bay Research Aquarium (MBARI) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) undertook a joint cruise in the Beaufort Sea on the Canadian Coast Guard ship Laurier. The collaborative project investigated submarine pingos and pock mark features, with the goal of establishing the origin of these features and assessing their possible relationship to degrading gas hydrates and contemporary marine permafrost processes. The cruise combined a number of disciplines; GSC providing the geologic overview, detailed geophysics, permafrost and stratigraphic framework, MBARI leading an extensive pore water geochemistry program (geochemical proxies to ascertain methane flux rate, isotope geochem etc.), USGS assessing the geochemistry of the gases to determine providence and DFO conducting a wide variety of water column and oceanography studies. A variety of bottom-founded temperature and oceanographic moorings were deployed and ROV studies of pingo morphologies were carried out. Considerable shallow coring was carried out in and around these features and in background areas. Possible evidence of ice bonding and observation of considerable visible ice of a very distinctive character and distribution were features of the coring in this region of submarine permafrost. Information gathered on this cruise will add to the study of shallow permafrost in this remote environment.
Research on “Massive Ice in Granular Resources:” With support from PERD and DIAND a team from McGill University initiated research into the nature, origin, distribution, extent and significance of massive ground ice in coarse-grained deposits focusing on sites in the Mackenzie Delta region of the western Canadian Arctic. Building upon previous studies this research utilizes a combination of geophysical, stratigraphic, laboratory and field mapping techniques. The laboratory component is concerned with physical and chemical analyses of ice and sediment to determine the age and origin of massive ice bodies. The field component focuses on geophysical and topographic mapping. Results will facilitate characterization of the sensitivity of these sediments to natural or anthropogenic disturbance, as well as providing information about massive ice occurrence in coarse sediments. Contacts: Greg DePascale, Wayne Pollard and Bob Gowan.
Mallik 2002 Gas Hydrate Production Research Well Program Results Release: In 2002, the Mallik partnership drilled three wells to 1166+ m to intersect and investigate a major gas hydrate field in the Mackenzie Delta of the northwestern Canadian Arctic. The wells, at a 50-m spacing, consisted of a production test well and two observation wells on either side. A major achievement of the program was the first modern production test of natural gas hydrates. The two observation wells facilitated cross-hole tomography experiments before, during and after several production tests. An extensive suite of open-hole logs and advanced gas hydrate logging tools were run. Continuous wireline core was recovered through the hydrate intervals and a multi-disciplinary science team of some 100 scientists undertook supporting research. Partners in the 2002 Mallik Program planned to release the results at an International Symposium “From Mallik to the Future” in Chiba , Japan, December 8–10, 2003. The Symposium was the first public release of the production test results and hydrate science research from the Mallik research wells. The Symposium planned to conclude with research priorities for exploration of future hydrate production and to further international collaboration in this important field. Further information on the Mallik gas hydrates research program is found on the websites: gashydrate.nrcan.gc.ca; www.mh21japan.gr.jp. The Mallik partners are: Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), Japan National Oil Corporation (JNOC), GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ), United States Geological Survey (USGS), United States Department of Energy (USDOE), India Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (GAIL/ONGC), BP-Chevron-Burlington Joint Venture Group and International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP).
Workshop Towards the Establishment of a Canadian CliC Program: The World Climate Research Programme initiated a new project on Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) in March 2000 to study important cold regions processes at a global scale. CliC addresses the entire cryosphere— snow, sea and freshwater ice, ice sheets, glaciers and ice caps and frozen ground, including permafrost. The CliC Science and Coordination Plan and draft Implementation Plan are at http://clic.npolar.no.
The international science community is looking to Canada to provide a leadership role in many areas of cryospheric research. To this end a workshop was scheduled in Victoria, November 30–December 1, 2003, to develop the framework for a strong, but realistic, Canadian contribution to CliC.
Upcoming Special Event: In recognition of Dr. Hugh French’s (Past President of the IPA) many achievements and contributions to the fields of periglacial geomorphology and permafrost studies over a 40-year period, a special session is being organised in his honour at the joint meeting of the Canadian Geomorphology Research Group (CGRG) and l’Association Québecoise pour l’Étude du Quaternaire (AQQUA). The meeting will be held in Québec City in May 2004, and the organisers are hoping for a full day of presentations and the subsequent publication of the papers as a special issue of Permafrost and Periglacial Processes (Volume 15, no. 4). For further information, contact: Antoni Lewkowicz ([email protected]).
Branko Ladanyi, Professor Emeritus, Ecole Polytechnique, was awarded the 2003 Harold R. Peyton Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers, “in recognition of his unstinting efforts in promotion and practicing in the field of Cold Regions Engineering, with particualr emphasis on engineering education and research into creep behavior of permafrost soils.” Congratulations, Branko, and we would also like to acknowledge your long-standing contributions to the IPA’s Permafrost Engineering Working Group.
An initial issue of papers translated into English from the Russian journal of permafrost studies: ‘Kriosfera Zemli’ has been published with the title ‘Earth’s Cryosphere.’ Publication will continue either with a complete translated version of each issue of the original Russian or as periodic issues of selected papers. This project has been undertaken as a collaboration between the Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, UK, and the Canadian organisation freezingground. org. The translation and preparation of articles is carried out to a particularly high standard, with assistance from Russian and English-speaking linguists and permafrost specialists. The publication is intended to strengthen understanding in the rest of the world of Russian permafrost science and engineering. For enquiries and subscription information, contact [email protected] A second edition of the English version of the Geocryological Map of Russia and Neighbouring Republics (Carleton University, Canada, Moscow State University, Russia, and Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, U.K. 1998) has been published (2003). It includes a number of revisions of definitions and interpretation, as well as significant technical improvements facilitating use of the English Version. The Map is an important illustration of Russian permafrost science as used in pipeline route selection and similar applications. Samples are shown at: www. freezingground.org/map. Enquiries and purchases: [email protected]
Margo Burgess ([email protected])