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TitlePermafrost characterization at the Iqaluit International Airport, Nunavut, in support of decision-making and planning
AuthorLeBlanc, A -MORCID logo; Mathon-Dufour, V; Allard, M; Oldenborger, G AORCID logo; Short, NORCID logo; L'Hérault, E; Sladen, W E
SourceCanada-Nunavut Geoscience Office, Summary of Activities 2012, 2013 p. 131-142 Open Access logo Open Access
LinksOnline - En ligne
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20120347
PublisherCanada-Nunavut Geoscience Office
File formatpdf
Lat/Long WENS -68.5667 -68.5333 63.7667 63.7333
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; engineering geology; permafrost; freezing ground; ground ice; ground temperatures; frost cracks; frost heaving; satellite imagery; thermal analyses; thermal regimes; RADARSAT-2
Illustrationslocation maps; graphs; profiles; images
ProgramCanada-Nunavut Geoscience Office, Funding Program
Released2013 01 01
AbstractThe Iqaluit International Airport is a key and strategic infrastructure on which the well-being of eastern Canadian Arctic residents depend. Increased passenger traffic and mineral exploration and development in the Arctic have put pressure on improving this key regional facility. Proposed renovation and expansion of the Iqaluit International Airport must address existing thaw settlement and frost cracking problems that are affecting the pavement and foundations of the runway and taxiways. Climate warming will also necessitate additional improvements in engineering design in order to adapt to changing terrain and environmental conditions. In order to support informed decision-making and reduce risk to public investments in northern transportation infrastructure and resource development, a joint Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office, Natural Resources Canada and Université Laval study on the sensitivity of permafrost and terrain conditions at the airport began in 2010. In 2012, geophysical investigations, including electromagnetic and electrical resistivity surveys, were used to enhance permafrost characterization and monitor spatial and seasonal changes in unfrozen water content in sensitive areas. RADARSAT-2 image acquisition was also completed in summer 2012 and provided the second year of ground surface movement information by interferometric synthetic aperture radar mapping. Results based on one year of ground temperature records from under the runway, and interpretation of geophysical surveys and remote sensing data indicate that 1) permafrost temperature is slightly warmer and active layer thickness is slightly thicker under the runway than the surrounding undeveloped ground; 2) the thawing front under the runway penetrates through the existing embankment into the underlying, largely glaciomarine deltaic sediments and therefore settlement due to melting ice wedges will probably continue; 3) electrical conductivity anomalies present below taxiway A and under at least one section of the runway are associated with localized settlement problems; and 4) interferometric synthetic aperture radar data on ground surface motion related to frost heave and thaw settlement provide a good correlation with underlying surficial geology.

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