Permafrost and Boreal Environments

Polygon Patterned Ground

The development of polygonal patterned    ground in a region of permafrost. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.
Because permafrost is a significant component of many boreal regions, it must be an important consideration when carrying out development activities in the north. In order to explore the relationship between permafrost and human activity, these web pages seek to explore key aspects of permafrost and periglacial processes in the context of the proposed Mackenzie Gas Project, a 1300 km natural gas pineline running through the Northwest Territories of Canada. It is hoped that through this exploration, the potential cost and benefits of such activites can be better understood.
To begin, it is important to understand the interrelationship between both permafrost and periglacial processes and their environment. The Permafrost & Periglacial Processes section will discuss not only the types, extent, and causes of permafrost, it will also describe important periglacial processes. This will build a solid foundation for discussing pipeline construction and its potential impacts on the permafrost.

The section Permafrost and Construction will  provide information regarding both the chief concerns when building a pipeline system through permafrost regions, including ancillary buildings, and how those concerns may be minimized. For instance, the potential impact of frost heave on pipeline integrity will be discussed as will methods to reduce the threat.

In order to provide a context for this discussion, the Mackenzie Gas Project will be used. The section Mackenzie Gas Project will provide a basic primer regarding the important aspects of the project. It will discuss such items as the proposed route for the pipeline, the fundamental steps for constructing the pipeline, and the types of additional facilities that will be needed.

Finally, a Reading List is provided for those who wish to learn more. This list includes the key resources that were refered to and cited while building these web pages.

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