Comparative studies of pingos and pingo clusters in the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula, NWT and Athabasca Valles, Mars

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: ground ice, topography, geophysics, Mars, pingo

Principal Investigator: Soare, Richard J (5)
Licence Number: 14522
Organization: Dept. of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University
Licenced Year(s): 2009 2007 2006 2005 2004
Issued: May 08, 2009
Project Team: Dr. Charlotte Roehm (Co-investigator, State University of New York, Buffalo), Dr. Gordon Osinski (Co-investigator, University of Western Ontario), Laura Thomson (Field research assistant, University of Western Ontario), Radu Capitan (Field research assistant, University of Western Ontario), Antoine Sejourne (Field research assistant, University of Paris, France)

Objective(s): The objective of this research is to compare the formation processes of pingo-like mounds near the equator in Mars vs. the development of pingos in the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands, and evaluate whether the two mounds types could be similar.

Project Description: The objective of this research is to compare the formation processes of pingo-like mounds near the equator in Mars vs. the development of pingos in the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands, and evaluate whether the two mounds types could be similar.

Mars is a high-priority target for the Canadian and international planetary science communities. The main driver for this is the possibility of life on the Red Planet, which could be linked to the history of water on Mars. For the first time, the possible presence of near-surface ground-ice on Mars has been confirmed by the Mars Phoenix Lander. The researchers’ work builds on the desire to find water on Mars by looking at pingo-like mounds near the Martian equator and discussing the various periglacial processes that could have contributed to their development. They compare these formation processes to those associated with the development of pingos in the Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands and evaluate whether the two mounds types could be similar.

The researchers propose to sample the clays just beneath the active layers of three pingos (Peninsula Point Pingo and two other pingos at Eskimo Lakes) and to map the occurrence of these clays within the soil profile above the pingo ice cores with a ground penetrating radar. They will sample the sediments by using a hand-held trowel to dislodge the clays from the permafrost. No more than a few ounces of clays are required per sample site and they will need only four or five separate samples from each site for their work to proceed. The ground penetrating radar will run over the pingo mounds and generate a mapped image of the pingo soil profiles and the ice cores that underlie them.

In previous years, the researchers have presented their work to interested members of the Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik communities at the Aurora Research Institute and Parks Canada. Moreover, as community members have worked closely with them during their time in Tuktoyaktuk, they have provided the researchers with an open communication channel to community. In addition, the researchers have hired local guides and monitors in both communities (enhancing their understanding of cutting edge geophysical-research techniques) and have booked lodging privately in Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik at all times.


The researchers would be happy to present their work formally or in a large community session. Please contact them to arrange a presentation.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from June 21 to July 05, 2009, at Peninsula Point Pingo near Tuktoyaktuk and two other pingos at Eskimo Lakes.