Paleoecology of Mercy Bay reefs, Frasnian, Banks Island

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: physical sciences, geology, sedimentology, fossils, paleontology, ancient reefs

Principal Investigator: Edinger, Evan N (3)
Licence Number: 13190
Organization: Laurentian University
Licensed Year(s): 2001 2000
Issued: May 22, 2001
Project Team: Dr. Paul Copper

Objective(s): The Devonian patch reefs of Mercy Bay, Banks Island are important as an example of fossil coral reefs that grew in a siliciclastic environment on a broad continental shelf. These reefs may also be able to provide insight into the nature of a reef ecosystem immediately before a time of global reef collapse. These reefs have been described qualitatively, but have not been studied using modern paleoecological methods. The current study will re-examine the detailed structure, sedimentology and paleoecology of these reefs. The structure and composition of the Mercy Bay reefs will be compared with the Middle Devonian reefs in the Princess Royal Islands and the adjacent western shore of Victoria Island, Middle Devonian reefs of southern Canada and modern reefs of siliciclastic shelves.

Project Description: The research team will examine the detailed structure, sedimentology and paleoecology of reefs in Mercy Bay. Transportation by fixed-wing aircraft to Polar Bear cabin near Castel Bay will be followed by helicopter transport to various field sites (East Branch Mercy River; Lower Mercy River; Southern Patch reefs; Princess Royal Islands; Hay Point, Victoria Island; Gordon Point, Victoria Island). Equipment used on the ground will include rock hammers, chisels and measuring tapes. The proposed research team itinerary will include daily work at the East Branch Mercy River site July 16-20, in the southern patch reefs area July 21-24, in the lower Mercy River area July 25-27. Wrap up for Banks Island reefs will occur on July 28-29. Transfer to Johnson Point will take place 30 July. Field work will take place on the Princess Royal Islands on July 31 - August 1, Hay Point area on August 2-4, and at Gordon Point on August 5. Wrap up will occur on August 6, and the research team will depart August 7. Sampling methods will include stratigraphic sections and quadrats to collect quantitative data of reef composition. Samples will be collected for identification of corals, stromatoporoids, and other reef organisms, and for growth rates and bioerosion analysis. A total of approximately 200 kg of rock samples will be collected.