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

May 4, 2017 in post

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.

Congrats to Karine Rioux for its excellent talk at Géoforum!

April 24, 2017 in @en, Article

On the 21st of April, Karine Rioux presented the main part of her honors bachelor project. Her presentation was part of the GeoForum 2017 of the Geography department (University of Montreal). Her project consists in evaluating the efficiency of a mitigation technique; the use of snowsheds to increase the thermal stability of permafrost along an experimental section of the Alaska Highway (Yukon). Karine skillfully demonstrated thermal dynamics of the air and the firsts centimeters of permafrost under the snowsheds, compared with a test section. Her good work and communicating skills won her the prize of the best honors presentation in physical geography! Congratulations Karine!

Patterned grounds on Ward Hunt Island (M. Paquette)

April 8, 2017 in post

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.

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

November 15, 2016 in @en, post

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).

Influence of urbanization on permafrost (Lin Chen)

November 14, 2016 in post

The urbanization has significant influence on permafrost degradation. The degradation of permafrost in the urban area in turn has been affecting the residents’ lives, such as water supply and stability of buildings. In 2008, ground penetration radar (GPR) was conducted by Lin Chen and his teammates to investigate the influence of urbanization on permafrost.

Imagery by tomodensitometry (CT-Scan) of permafrost cores: a useful tool for geomorphologists (Audrey Veillette)

November 1, 2016 in post


on the left: CT-Scan Source :; on the right: Imagery of a permafrost core obtained by tomodensitometry. We can see the orientation of air bubble in the ice rich section of the core, indication of permafrost recovery in a slope environement

The results obtained by CT-Scan imagery help us in the fine scale characterization of the cryostratigraphy of our samples. This gives us information about the formation, degradation and recovery processes of permafrost.


Ground ice at Cape Marre-Sale, Yamal Peninsula, Russia (Daniel Fortier)

October 28, 2016 in post


Cape Marre-Sale, Yamal Peninsula, Russia. Mike Angelopoulos, Daniel Fortier, E. Godin and Mark T. Jorgenson (Photo: Eva Stephani)

The origin of ground ice is important to understand how the landscape evolved in the past and will continue to change in response to climate change. Geocryolab members and colleagues worked on the origin of ground ice at Cape Marre-Sale. We proposed that buried glacial-related ice forms vast portion of the permafrost of these icy coastal cliffs.

Additional information: Fortier et al. 2012. Origin of massive ice at Cape Marre-Sale, Yamal Peninsula, Siberia, Russia: contrasting views:

“Cold War” in Potsdam, June 2016 (Vilmantas Prėskienis)

October 26, 2016 in Article, post

Remember these days when USSR and USA were the two competing powers, and Europe with China were just little players? No? Me neither (I’m too young). But my trip to Potsdam last June reminded me of that. This was the 11th ICOP (International Conference on Permafrost), at which close to half of the participants were from Russia, other big delegation from Alaska (and some other states), and then smaller groups of researchers and students from other “satellite countries”, including Canada, China, Sweden, Germany, UK, etc. Here for a full week, the cold war (or war for cold) continued as in old times.

My name tag bore only the indication that I’m from Canada and my exotic name, which allowed me to be a perfect spy for… I don’t even know who yet. The Alaskans (and their colleagues from other states) were more suspicious about me mingling around, since everyone is expected to understand English, as it was the language of the conference; however I managed to secretly retrieve some information from Russians, French, Swedish and Germans, who had no suspicion I might grasp some words in their languages.

Overall this was a great conference, where every new day brought lots of excellent ideas, and taught me more than a semester-long course at a university. I met my old friends and made some new acquaintances, and finally I’ve learned again, that having lots of nice pictures on your poster is never a bad idea!


Vilmantas in front of his poster at the ICOP in Potsdam

Geocryolab joins international effort to identify future priorities for permafrost research

March 19, 2015 in post

Frédéric Bouchard, Julie Malenfant-Lepage and Michel Paquette co-authored a manuscript in The Cryosphere journal summarizing the Top Five scientific topics that should receive the greatest attention from the permafrost research community in the future. Building on an international, multidisciplinary forum held in June 2014, this article is a collaborative contribution from early career researchers members of PYRN, APECS, ADAPT and PAGE21 working across a spectrum of permafrost-related disciplines.

The manuscript is currently under review in the ″Interactive Public Discussion″ section of the Journal. Everyone interested can contribute to enhance the manuscript by submitting comments and suggestions until April 22, 2015.

Thermosyphons (Alaska)

October 28, 2014 in post

Thermosyphons are closed-system heat extraction devices. Installed in the permafrost they contribute to cooling of the ground and maintaining the permafrost intact. Although thermosyphons are effective mitigation techniques, their cost currently limit the possibility to deploy them extensively along linear transportation infrastructure such as road but have been used with success to mitigate heat island under buildings over permafrost. Geocryolab is involved in testing the effectiveness of thermosyphons using high-resolution   infra-red camera and ground temperature.


themosyphon 1

Thermosyphon installed in the muskeg at an experimental site of interior Alaska near Fairbanks (photo M. Kanevskiy, © Geocryolab)











themosyphon 2

Black and white image from FLIR infra-red camera showing thermosyphon temperature (15.9°F = -9°C) and air temperature (-40°F = -40°C) (photo M. Kanevskiy, © Geocryolab)












themosyphon 3

Infra-red thermal image of thermosyphons in the natural setting. The reddish color (warmer than surrounding terrain) indicates the thermosyphon is extracting heat from the permafrost (photo M. Kanevskiy, © Geocryolab).