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TitleCanadian Beaufort Sea: Physical Shore-Zone Analysis
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorHarper, J R; Reimer, P D; Collins, A D
SourceGeological Survey of Canada, Open File 1689, 1988, 105 pages, Open Access logo Open Access
Documentopen file
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceYukon; Northwest Territories; Northern offshore region
NTS107; 117A; 117D; 117E; 117H
AreaBeaufort Sea
Lat/Long WENS-140.0000 -128.0000 72.0000 68.0000
Subjectsgeochronology; surficial geology/geomorphology; sedimentology; miscellaneous; coastal studies; morphometric studies; erosion; sediment stability; erosional features; erosion rates; massive ice; landforms; landform classification; climate; sea level fluctuations; glaciation; deglaciation; wisconsinian glacial stage; permafrost; holocene; sediment transport; depositional environment; data collections; barrier beaches; eolian deposits; sea ice; tidal deposits; storm deposits; mass wasting; radiocarbon dates; Cenozoic
Released1988 02 01; 2011 12 23
An analysis of the Canadian Beaufort Sea coastal zone (Alaskan/Yukon border to Baillie Islands) was conducted to provide regional summaries of (a) coastal morphology, (b) coastal stability and (c) coastal processes. It is anticipated that the analysis will be used in the development of resource management strategies and in the evaluation of proposed developments (impact and design assessment). A total of 2,077 km of coastline were examined using aerial photographs, low altitude oblique video imagery and previously existing field studies. The Coastal Information System, developed by the Geological Survey of Canada, was used to systematically characterize coastal morphology and record data in a digital data base. Six coastal types were defined from the data base and were used to characterize the coastal zone. The results indicate a predominance of erosional landform types (60 to 80% of the coastline mapped) with relatively few (<20%) widely dispersed accretional landforms. Over 1,000 comparisons of coastal stability were made using 1950's and 1970' s air photos. The results indicate that the Beaufort Sea coast is undergoing wide scale regional retreat. Most sections of the coast exhibit mean coastal retreat rates greater than 1 m/yr1 however, areas near the active channels of the Mackenzie River delta, are retreating almost everywhere at rates greater than 2 m/yr. A maximum retreat rate of 18 m/yr was measured in the Shallow Bay portion of the delta. The presence of significant quantities of terrestrial ice in the coastal sediments is one of the primary causes of the wide scale retreat. It is also hypothesized, however, that the Canadian Beaufort Sea is undergoing a relative sea level rise, which is contributing to the rapid retreat. There is indirect circumstantial evidence that supports this contention. The presence of terrestrial ice and a possible relative sea level rise are causing rapid retreat of most segments of the Beaufort Sea coastline. This is manifest in the dominance of erosional landforms. An important exception occurs on the western Yukon coast where long linear barrier islands appear stable. It is speculated that onshore movement of material due to ice push is the primary process responsible for supplying material to these barriers.

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