Environmental Change in the Western Canadian Arctic Islands

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, geology, glaciology, fossils, paleoenvironment, environmental change

Principal Investigator: England, John H (15)
Licence Number: 14358
Organization: University of Alberta
Licenced Year(s): 2012 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
Issued: Jun 12, 2008
Project Team: Tom Lakeman (Graduate Student, University of Alberta), Jessica Vaughan (Graduate Student, University of Alberta), Mark Furze (Co-investigator, Grant MacEwan College), David Evans (Co-investigator, Durham University), Roy Coulthard (Field Assistant, University of Alberta), Maija Raudsepp (Field Assistant, University of Alberta), TBA (Field Assistant, TBA), Aaron Nasogaluak (Field Assistant, Sachs Harbour)

Objective(s): The objective of this research is to determine how the
environment of Banks Island has evolved during the past several
hundred thousand years to present, especially whether Banks Island
served as a biological refugia during previous glaciations.

Project Description: This licence was issued for the application no. 822.

The objective of this research is to determine how the environment of Banks Island has evolved during the past several hundred thousand years to present, especially whether Banks Island served as a biological refugia during previous glaciations. The researchers aim to understand and reconstruct the extent and dynamics of past glaciers, past climates and ongoing sea level change, including submergence, on Banks Island, through geological mapping and the dating of sea shells, sediment and boulders.

Researchers and equipment will be placed into field camps via Twin Otter aircraft and helicopter from Resolute Bay, NU. One research team (Lakeman party) will operate out of several small field camps along the Thomsen River valley from June 20 to July 15, 2008. Following the survey of the Thomsen River valley the Lakeman party will survey Castel Bay from July 15 - July 30, 2008. From July 31 - August 20, the Lakeman party will survey Jesse Bay. The second research team (England party) will operate out of two small field camps on the north coast of Banks Island (July 1 - July 31, 2008). The third research team (Vaughan party) will operate out of three small field camps on the south coast of Banks Island (July 1 - July 31, 2008). Transects will be conducted from these camps via helicopter (~10 days: from 10-20 July) and ATV (in areas outside Aulavik National Park; up to ~20 days). Ancient shorelines, which are now far inland and above modern sea level, will be mapped and surveyed. Fossils, which are frequently observed on these shorelines and related raised marine sediments, will be collected and radiocarbon dated. A small number of fossil molluscs will be collected from each site and only a few grams of driftwood will be sampled, collectively representing only a very small proportion of the existing fossil material that is widespread on the landscape. Large boulders will be sampled for terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide dating. This entails sampling <1kg of rock from the upper surface of large boulders using a rock saw and chisel. Efforts will be made to ensure that the sampled surface is left in a natural appearing state.
The principal investigator, Dr. England, will supply a summary of the research in plain language to be circulated amongst the surrounding communities (Sachs Harbour, Holman, and Cambridge Bay), and also make this information available to the Aurora Research Institute's library. Dr. England also intends to continue to give an annual public lecture at the Aurora Research Institute and teach in the Natural Resources Technology Program at Aurora College in the fall of 2008. Following fieldwork, if funds permit, England's research group wishes to give a public presentation to the community of Sachs Harbour in the fall of 2008 to share research results from the western Arctic.

Fieldwork will be conducted from June 20 to August 20, 2008, on several sites on Banks Island:

1) Lakeman camp will have two main locations: a) travelling down the Thomsen River by canoe to Castel Bay in Aulavik National Park from mid June to mid July, and b) areas around Jesse Bay from mid July to mid August.

2) England camp will have three main locations: a) area inland and east of Parker Point, northeast Banks Island, b) Mercy Bay, including the fiord head and selected sites on the east and west shores, and c) Polar Bear Cabin/Desert River northwest to Antler Cove, extending from the coast to points approximately 20 km inland.

3) Vaughan camp will have three main locations extending from Masik River to mouth of Kellet River.