Impact of seismic exploration on ground thaw and drainage

Project keywords: Seismic lines, human disturbance, permafrost thaw

Name of project lead: W. Quinton

Project team/partners: For each collaborator please specify: Team member name, role, organization and contact information 
M. Braverman, J. Kanigan.

Status: In Progress

Location: Scotty Creek.

Year and month project started: 2012

Anticipated completion year of project? 2014

Executive year of project (example, year 1 or 2 or 3…) 2

Brief project description:

This research will focus on the hydrological regime of seismic lines in the zone of discontinuous permafrost. The impact of the seismic lines on northern ecosystems is still not well understood. Being cut over frozen ground they are causing rapid permafrost degradation. The ecological and water resource consequences of this process are the subject of public concern. This research will focus on the processes which are taking place immediately following as well as in the decades following the seismic line have being cut. Based on the wetland development theory and existing hydrological models, a set of tools and recommendations will be developed to minimize the damage caused by cutting the seismic lines in the regions of discontinuous permafrost.

Significance of the results (rationale): / project linkages

What are the key contributions to science/our knowledge base of northern environments

Improved understanding of impacts of seismic exploration by examining preferential thaw processes and impact of removing canopy on soil thermal and moisture regimes, surface subsidence, and recovery.

Key deliverables and reporting: Link to needs of NWT

Results will contribute to development of best practise guidelines for exploration sector.

Engagement, training and capacity building

This project focuses on the rate and pattern of permafrost thaw resulting from linear disturbances (e.g. seismic lines, roads, pipelines etc.) on the land. We continue to work with the ENR / Forest Management Branch office in Hay River (T. Lakusta) on the development of best practises, and with the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada office in Yellowknife (J. Kanigan) on improving the understanding of and ability to predict cumulative impacts. Community consultation is an important part of both these objectives, and is achieved through consultation with land-users such as Trappers (e.g. B. Norwegian, LKFN) and First Nations community resource managers (D. Tsetso, DFN; A. Bouvier, LKFN). Most of this interaction is carried out informally throughout the year.

Links to WSIPlan and NWT Science Agenda

Key to Success 2.1 I
 Develop and implement collaborative research and monitoring programs for environmental stressors that can contribute to cumulative effects on NWT watersheds.
Key to Success 2.1 I
Develop and implement collaborative research and monitoring programs for environmental stressors that can contribute to cumulative effects on NWT watersheds.

Key project tasks for next year (work plan pieces – research)

Key project tasks for next year (work plan pieces – engagement, training and capacity building)

Published Papers 2 papers