Possible arctic analogues of Utopia Planitia, Mars

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: active layer, ground ice, Mars, thermokarst, landscape assessment

Principal Investigator: Soare, Richard J (5)
Licence Number: 13995
Organization: Dept of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University
Licensed Year(s): 2009 2007 2006 2005 2004
Issued: Jun 05, 2006
Project Team: Dr. Richard J Soare (Principal Investigator, Concordia University), J.M. Wan Bun Tseung (Research Assistant, University of Calgary), Dr. Jim Rice (Research Assistant, Arizona State University), Marco Burelli (Research Asistant, Concordia University), Christian Ackad (Research Assistant, Concordia University), Geoffrey Pearce (Research Assistant, Concordia University), Yannick Rousseau (Research Assistant, Concordia University), Ashley Weese (Research Assistant, Concordia University), Andrew Sullivan (Research Assistant, Concordia University), Jason Roberts (Research Asistant, Concordia University), Dominic Veillette (Research Assistant, Concordia University), Dr. Gordon Ozinski (Research Assistant, Canadian Space Agency), Dr. Venitia Bodycombe (Research Assistant, Concordia University)

Project Description: The objective of this research is to take multiple samples of the active layer of permafrost in areas where patterned ground and thermokarst are present. The data gained will assist in understanding possible cold climate processes in the northern hemisphere of Mars.

In recent years, cold-climate landscapes on Earth have come to play an important role in understanding landscapes on Mars. This work focuses on the study of polygonal patterned ground, the ground ice underlying it, and features such as thermokarst lakes and alases in the Mackenzie River Delta and the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula. Polygonal patterned ground and features suggestive of thermokarst landforms are commonplace in Utopia Planitia, Mars. The aim of this year’s work is to build up a portfolio of data on the varying concentrations of ground ice underlying polygonal patterned ground and thermokarst (other landforms will be studied later.) In so doing, it is hoped that the general understanding of Earth-based cold-climate landscapes will be enhanced, a model that explains localized differences in ground ice will be developed, and the knowledge stemming from such a model applied to the study of landscapes on Mars.

Areas where polygonal patterned ground and thermokarst landforms occur (in the vicinity of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk) will be visited. The areas will be visited on foot, with the assistance of a wildlife monitor. Small soil samples (.25kg) will be acquired with hand-held tools. The vegetative cover will be replaced if disturbed. Most of the work will be observational, based upon measurements taken with compasses, ground-penetrating radar, laser range finders, tape measures and GPS.

Findings of the study will be presented at public meetings in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.
The study will be conducted from June 15-29, 2006 at the following locations: Inuvik (1-2 km north of Mike Zubko airport, and 5 km south of town immediately adjacent to the Dempster Highway), and Tuktoyaktuk (2-3 km radius of the hamlet).