Permafrost Drilling in Adventdalen, Svalbard
by Graham Gilbert, BSc, Geography
In early April, I had the opportunity to participate in a drilling campaign with the EU 7 framework PAGE21 research project in Adventdalen, Svalbard. PAGE21, short for Changing Permafrost in the Arctic and its Global Effects in the 21st Century, seeks to develop upon existing knowledge of permafrost on Svalbard, primarily by studying the cryostratigraphy of the upper permafrost. At the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS), the project is led by Professor Hanne Christiansen and employs PhD Student, Stefanie Härtel.
During the ten day period, the drill team obtained approximately 80 meters of permafrost cores from up to 15 meters depth in ice-wedge polygons, pingos, and solifluction sheets. Technical drilling expertise was provided by Professor Kenji Yoshikawa (University of Alaska, Fairbanks). The specially designed hydraulic drill rig was operated by Ulrich Neumann of Kolibri Geo Services. We were additionally joined by Professor Chris Burn (Carleton University) who was guest lecturing at UNIS during this period. These investigations will provide insight into the physical dynamics of permafrost on Svalbard and aid in the evaluation of the effects of climatic change on periglacial landforms in permafrost areas.