Marine Geohazard Studies in the Beaufort Sea

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, geology, hydrocarbon exploration

Principal Investigator: Dallimore, Scott R (17)
Licence Number: 15912
Organization: Natural Resources Canada - Geological Survey of Canada
Licenced Year(s): 2016
Issued: Jun 24, 2016
Project Team: Michelle Côté (Scientist, NRCan-GSC), Charles Paull (Scientist, Monteray Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)), Dale Graves (Scientist , MBARI), Frank Flores (Scientist, MBARI), David Caress (Scientist, MBARI), Lonny Lundsten (Scientist, MBARI), Benjamin Erwin (Scientist, MBARI), Erik Trauschke (Scientist, MBARI), Dale Chayes (Scientist, MBARI)

Objective(s): To quantify active geologic processes including landslides and mud volcanoes, and characterize sensitive marine habitat; and to quantify marine geohazards and provide scientific outcomes useful for regulators and industry actively exploring for hydrocarbons in this area.

Project Description: This research will take place onboard the Canadian Coast Guard Service icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier during its annual multi-tasked Arctic Patrol that traverses the Canadian western Arctic. The research shares the logistics with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada researcher Dr. Humfrey Melling. This work builds on marine research expeditions onboard the Laurier in 2010, 2012 and 2013. Summaries of the joint research in the Beaufort Sea was presented to the Inuvialuit Game Council in March 2016 as part of the Canada-Korea-USA Beaufort Sea Geoscience Research Program.

The objectives are to advance new frontier scientific research in the Beaufort Sea, conduct remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) mapping to quantify active geologic processes including landslides and mud volcanoes, and characterization of sensitive marine habitat. This research will help quantify marine geohazards and provide scientific outcomes useful for regulators and industry actively exploring for hydrocarbons in this area.

Science Methods
1) Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Surveys
• ROV, which is capable of operation in 1500 m of water, was specifically designed by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and Natural Resources Canada for research missions in the Arctic. It is compact, has multiple science applications, and can be operated with just two MBARI engineers. The ROV has been modified for a planned 2016 research program with new capabilities to sample seabed gas and ground water releases and measure seabed temperatures.

2) Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Surveys
• AUV, which is capable of detailed seabed mapping using multi-beam sonar with centimetre-scale resolution, has also been specially designed by MBARI for Arctic operations.

3) Water Sampling
•Sea water samples will be collected using a water sampling rosette at various locations within the study area. The rosette will capture 10-litre volumes of seawater at up to 24 depths. The collected seawater will be sub-sampled onboard and stored for later analysis for methane concentration.

4) Gravity Coring of Marine Sediments
•Marine sediment coring will be undertaken to provide environmental and physical sample data pertaining to the seabed and shallow sub-seabed conditions. The sampling process involves assembling a variable length of sampling pipe and a weighted head to allow the penetration of the seabed for the sampling and recovery of a tube or core of sediment that is maintained intact. The column of sediment recovered is normally analysed to examine recent changes in the environment by assessing physical properties such as density, texture, sedimentary structures and also microfossils, pollen and spores contained in the sediment.


A post-field report and copies of all scientific contributions (scientific papers, maps, and databases) will be provided to the communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 24, 2016 October 3, 2016.