NSERC and FRQNT for Karine Rioux!

May 23, 2017 in @en, post by Davesne.G

Congratulations to Karine Rioux for obtaining the Canada Graduate Scholarship awarded by NSERC and the Masters Research Fellowship awarded by the FRQNT. His master’s degree, which will begin in the fall of 2017, under the supervision of Daniel Fortier (UdeM) and Mélissa Lafrenière (Queen’s University), will focus on carbon, nutrient and sediment fluxes from thermo-erosion gullies. These scholarships will help support research and field campaigns at Bylot Island, Nunavut.


Audrey Veillette: Recipient of a NSTP scholarship for the upcoming 2017 field season

May 16, 2017 in @en, Article, post by Davesne.G

Congratulations to Audrey Veillette who was awarded a Northern Scientific Training Program grant for supporting her work on Ward Hunt Island this summer. She will be there from May 31st to July 12, working on the field with her colleague Gautier Davesne.

Audrey Veillette in Bylot Island in mai 2016

Massive ice near Eureka (NU) (M. Paquette)

May 4, 2017 in post by Davesne.G

Ice can be quite abundant in permafrost, but its origin, whether it has been buried or has formed in-situ, is sometimes hard to tell. This picture shows massive ice underlying a thick marine deposit (mostly clay). It was taken in late July in 2013, near the Eureka airport in Nunavut in an active retrogressive thaw slump, a landform created by ice-rich permafrost degradation. The two dark lines crossing the ice mass is reminiscent of structures that can be seen in glaciers, and indicate a possible buried origin for this ice. Analysis of the cryostratigraphy, of the geochemistry and of the crystallography of the ice can help tell the difference. An example of this type of work can be found in this article and in this presentation by lab member Stéphanie Coulombe.

Shipping of field equipment to Resolute Bay (NU)! (G. Davesne et A. Veillette)

April 19, 2017 in @en, post by Davesne.G

The preparation of field summer in the Arctic begins in the fall with the logistic support (ex. Polar continental shelf program) and permits (ex. Parks Canada) requests. Once the supports and permits are accepted, generally in February and March, it’s time to plan the field season. The most important step is the preparation of the heavy equipment and food that are shipped by cargo flight to PCSP base in Resolute Bay. A careful preparation is crucial in order to precisely estimate the needs for the field season.

Gautier Davesne and Audrey Veillette shipped their equipment and food this Monday, which means that the field season will start soon…

Isotopic analysis of water (M. Paquette)

April 14, 2017 in post by Davesne.G

When all you need is a few millilitres. These 2 ml bottles are more than enough for measuring isotopic composition of water. This technique has many application, but in this case we are trying to figure out what percentage of the water flowing through the water tracks of Ward Hunt Island originate from snowmelt and how much from shallow groundwater. Even though we might suspect a lot of snowmelt, all bets are off really.

Patterned grounds on Ward Hunt Island (M. Paquette)

April 8, 2017 in post by Davesne.G

Patterned Grounds! Among the most interesting features of periglacial areas are these self-organised soil mosaics, which can take a wide range of shapes and size and are created by freeze-thaw cycles. The type of soil and the slope angle is very important in deciding the shape and the size of the patterns. This picture was taken on Ward Hunt Island, looking north, and shows the transition between scree slope colluviums (material moving downslope because of gravity) to the right and drift deposits (material deposited by a glacier) to the left. The colluviums don’t sort well because of the absence of fine sediments in the soil matrix, and we can only see small bulges where the underlying drift emerges from depth. The drift is frost susceptible, and is organized in stripe-like features oriented toward the direction of the slope. The different colours are also caused by the proliferation of biological soil crusts on the drift, as edaphic conditions are modified.

Permafrost cores analysis in the lab (Michel Paquette)

February 1, 2017 in post by Davesne.G

While summers are for field work and data and sample collection, winters in the Geocryolab are spent analyzing those in the lab and in the offices. A widespread method used by lab members is the cryostratigraphic analysis, which describes and quantifies the pattern of soil and ice structures in permafrost. It informs on the formation history of ice and permafrost, and is usually performed in the cold room at temperatures below 0°C to prevent the cores from thawing. Here Ashley Rudy (PhD) from Queen’s University’s Environmental Variability and Extremes Laboratory (EVEX) is cleaning the cores by removing the mud layer created during coring operations, while Michel Paquette (PhD candidate) from Geocryolab is describing them and taking pictures. The cores are from the Cape Bounty Arctic Watershed Observatory (CBAWO) on Melville Island, in the Western Arctic. They will then be thawed to measure ice content, and the water from the cores will be used for geochemistry and isotopic analyses.

Physical properties and microstructure of aeolian sand (By Lin Chen)

December 2, 2016 in @en, post by Davesne.G

Climate warming and human activities have led to significant grassland degradation and desertification on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP). The performance of Qinghai-Tibet Railway (QTR) have been affected by aeolian sand transportation and deposition. The physical properties of aeolian sand are of importance to evaluate the long-term thermal performance of crushed-rock interlayer embankment (CRIE) under the combined influence of aeolian sand clogging and climate warming. The soil properties and scanning electron microscope / energy dispersive X-ray (SEM / EDX) were conducted. And a two-dimensional unsteady finite-element model was used to simulate the impacts of climate warming and aeolian sand clogging of CRIE on its cooling performance.

aeolian sand

Mass movement monitoring using a VX station (by Michel Paquette)

November 22, 2016 in post by Davesne.G


Precision work. This photo was taken looking through the targeting lense of the Geocryolab Trimble VX spatial station, which has the capacity to automatically follow the prism Gautier is holding. This allows him to work alone while performing measurements at a great degree of precision (~1 mm). On this photo, Gautier is recording the position of mass movement markers, a task performed every year, in order to measure downslope displacement of material of only a few centimeters. Such a precise task requires patience, which is particularly easier to have when the weather is calm and sunny. Luckily for Gautier and Michel, the final two weeks of their 2016 field season on Ward Hunt was blessed beautiful and warm (Ward Hunt standard !) weather, perfect for long and delicate work such as this.

What is the impact of subsurface water flow on the thermal regime of the ground? (Daniel Fortier)

November 15, 2016 in @en, post by Davesne.G

In response to climate changes, permafrost thaw and active layer deepening shall favor the increase of subsurface water flow. Geocryolab designed experimental cells to evaluate the thermal ipact of groundwater on the ground thermal regime. Why? Because very few information is currently available about this topic and because laboratory study allows for a simplification of the parameters influencing the temperature and a better control of these parameters.


Thermistor cables (left) fabricated at Geocryolab which will be linked to a datalogger (Campbell Scienific).