Seasonal Cycling in Electrical Resistivities at Ten Thin Permafrost Sites, Southern Yukon and Northern British Columbia

Title: Seasonal Cycling in Electrical Resistivities at Ten Thin Permafrost Sites, Southern Yukon and Northern British Columbia
Authors: Miceli, Christina
Date: 2012
Abstract: Permanent electrode arrays were set up at ten monitoring sites from Whitehorse, Yukon, to Fort St. John, British Columbia, in order to gain a clearer perspective of the effectiveness of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) monitoring over an annual cycle of freezing and thawing. This research forms part of a longer-term project that is attempting to use ERT to examine changes in permafrost resulting from climate change. Inter-site and intra-site variability were examined by installing and maintaining data-loggers to monitor active layer and shallow permafrost temperatures, air temperatures, and snow depths at each site from August 2010 – August 2011. Additional site information was collected on each ERT survey date, including frost table depths, snow depths, and vegetation heights. Based on nearby community records, the climate in the region has been warming by a rate of 0.3 to 0.5 °C per decade since 1970. The permafrost at all ten sites was characteristic of sporadic discontinuous and isolated patches permafrost zones, and is classified as Ecosystem-protected. Nine of the ten permafrost sites had permafrost that was thinner than the 14 or 7 m penetration depth of the ERT survey (three-layer system consisting of an active layer, permafrost, and sub-permafrost perennially unfrozen zone). The most predictable results were achieved at the two-layer system site (active layer overlying permafrost to the base of the profile) in each of its virtual resistivity boreholes, relative resistivity change comparisons, and mean near-surface apparent resistivity progressions. ERT is an effective method of delineating permafrost boundaries in thin permafrost environments and does show strength when monitoring areas of seasonally frozen ground. Repeat surveys at a site indicate seasonal changes in three-layer conditions, but not as predictably as those in a two-layer system. In order to receive the most accurate information regarding permafrost extent and thickness, it appears ideal to conduct ERT surveys annually, within the same month as the previous year’s survey.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -