Canada-Korea-USA Beaufort Sea Geoscience Research Program: 2013 Activities

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, permafrost, bathymetry, oceanography, permafrost thaw, gas hydrates, seabed

Principal Investigator: Dallimore, Scott R (16)
Licence Number: 15174
Organization: Geological Survey of Canada - Pacific Division
Licenced Year(s): 2014 2013
Issued: Mar 18, 2013
Project Team: Young Keun Jin (Scientist, KOPRI), Michael Riedel (Scientist, NRCan), Michelle Côté (Scientist, NRCan), Humfrey Melling (Scientist, DFO), Charles Paull (Scientist, MBARI), Tim Collett (Scientist, USGS)

Objective(s): To acquire geoscience knowledge about the outer shelf of the Beaufort Sea with intent to address knowledge gaps related to thawing of subsea permafrost and gas hydrates.

Project Description: The agencies involved are undertaking this research to acquire geoscience knowledge about the outer shelf of the Beaufort Sea with intent to address knowledge gaps related to thawing of subsea permafrost and gas hydrates. The research will be made publicly available to northern communities, regulators, the scientific community and industry through the release of scientific papers, maps and reports.

The Program activities include:
• Vessel mobilization and demobilization,
• Multi-channel 2D seismic data acquisition,
• Oceanographic and bathymetric data collection,
• Sub-bottom profiling,
• Sediment coring, and
• Bottom-video observations with a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV survey)

The Program will be conducted using the RV Araon, with support flights using the RV Araon’s helicopter for offshore ice reconnaissance and possible crew transfers for Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs). The Program is scheduled to be in Canadian waters for a maximum of 20 days between September 1 and October 9, 2013, in the southern Beaufort Sea within the boundaries of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR). The Program will operate in water depths ranging from 30 m to 2000 m, while 2D seismic data acquisition will occur in water depths ranging from 50 m to 2000 m.

The 2D seismic data will be collected using an array of eight airguns, with a total capacity of 1200 cubic inches. This seismic source is about one-third the size commonly used in industry or commercial surveys. The Program also involves the use of up to ten ocean bottom seismometers, which will be deployed on the ocean floor during the survey to monitor seismic activity.

Oceanographic data collection will include water column characterization through conductivity, depth, temperature instruments and oceanographic moorings to measure and record data on ice thickness and ridging, storm waves, sea level, ocean current, temperature, salinity and plankton density. Bathymetric data collection will be completed through the use of a multibeam echo sounder. Sub-bottom profiling, used for characterizing layers of sediment or rock under the seafloor, will be conducted through the use of a deep-tow profiling system that uses a pneumatic pressure pulse or the hull-mounted transducers on the RV Araon. Sediment coring provides physical seabed sample data, and will be completed through a small sampling pipe that penetrates the seabed and retrieves a tube (core) of intact sediment. The ROV survey will visually examine seafloor features from the vessel.

All activities will be completed from the RV Araon. The RV Araon is a ‘state of the art’ modern ice class vessel, measuring 111 m long by 19 m wide. It was built in 2009 and is registered in South Korea. It can accommodate a crew of 25 with 60 passengers. The vessel is equipped with crew quarters, a galley, food storage areas, fresh water treatment equipment, a wastewater treatment system and solid waste storage.

The vessel will be equipped with one AS-350 helicopter for this Program, which will be used for offshore ice reconnaissance and possibly MMO crew transfers.

A post-field report and copies of all scientific contributions (scientific papers, maps, and databases) will be provided to the communities in the ISR through their HTC and through the ARI. The science crew may post blog entries to website which would be accessible by the public during and after Program operations.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 1, 2013 to October 10, 2013.