Beaufort Shelf Seabed Mapping Project

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, bathymetry, sea ice, marine environment, seabed mapping

Principal Investigator: Blasco, Steve M (9)
Licence Number: 14598
Organization: Natural Resources Canada
Licenced Year(s): 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
Issued: Aug 21, 2009
Project Team: Anthony Atkinson (Electronics Technician, Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic)), Walli Rainey (GIS Specialist , Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic)), Pat Campbell (Survey Navigation , Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic)), Stuart Beaton (Survey Techician, Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic)), Carrie Breton (Marine Geologist , Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic)), Finley Breton (Electronics Technician , Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic))

Objective(s): The objective of the seabed mapping program is to conduct a regional survey of the Beaufort shelf. Ice scouring processes, benthic habitats, abandoned artificial islands, pingo-like features, gas seeps, seafloor foundation conditions, and subsea permafrost will be investigated.

Project Description: The objective of the seabed mapping program is to conduct a regional survey of the Beaufort shelf. Ice scouring processes, benthic habitats, abandoned artificial islands, pingo-like features, gas seeps, seafloor foundation conditions, and subsea permafrost will be investigated.

The Coast Guard vessel CCGS Nahidik will be used as the research platform to conduct offshore acoustic/sonar surveys of the seabed, as well as a regional grid of survey lines first surveyed in the1980’s. Will be resurveyed as follows:
a. use a 300kHz short range multibeam echo sounder (Simrad EM 3002) to produce 200m wide, along track maps of the topography and character of the seabed. Additional multibeam data will be collected at specific sites on the central shelf. The multibeam system is operated from a 9m long survey launch deployed daily from the Nahidik.
b. use a 100 kHz sidescan sonar (Klein 3000) to map the distribution of ice scours on the seabed for comparison to historic data and to calibrate the multibeam data
c. use a single beam 200 kHz echo sounder to map the depths of ice scours on the seabed and to calibrate the multibeam sonar
d. use 1.0-3.5 kHz subbottom profilers (boomer, sparker) to map the distribution of sediments to 200m below seabed along repetitive grid lines and at specific sites (mud volcanoes, gas vents, artificial island, permafrost, habitat sites)
e. use a drop camera and a bottom towed video camera to photograph the nature of the seabed and benthic habitat

Sea-ice and sea-state conditions and the distribution of marine mammals will control the access to research sites on the shelf in any one year.

Through the Joint Secretariat and Aurora College, two northern community students will be employed during the Nahidik program survey. Students will participate in field program activities on board CCGS Nahidik. Students will be assigned projects related to their interests (marine biology).

Communication of results occurs through annual consultation with each of the six communities. For example, in February 2009, a team of Nahidik scientists met with members of the HTC’s in Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, Sacks Harbour, Paulatuk and Ulukhatok to present the results of the 2008 research program, discuss plans for 2009 and to solicit Traditional Knowledge input into research activities.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 24 to September 12, 2009. The survey area includes the Canadian Beaufort continental shelf and is bounded by 131°00’ to 141°00’West longitude and 69°30’ to 71°00’North latitude. Exact locations to be surveyed on the shelf in any one year are dependent on weather and sea-ice conditions as the vessel is not ice strengthened.