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Permafrost in Canada

Permafrost in Canada

Roger J. E. Brown
Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    Permafrost in Canada
    Book Description:

    This comprehensive analysis of permafrost-its origin, definition, and occurrence, and the effect it has on industry and agriculture-is an invaluable to the growing number of people working in the north and to those interested in its development.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-3261-5
    Subjects: Geography, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 Nature of Permafrost
    (pp. 3-30)

    About one-half of Canada lies in the permafrost region. This area (whose most natural features, political divisions, and settlements, are shown in 1 A, B, c, D) comprises the Yukon and Northwest Territories and the northern parts of most of the provinces, with a sparse population scattered over distances. Economic development and other human activities have been by a number of factors, chiefly severity of climate, remoteness from the south, inaccessibility, and permafrost.

    Since the end of the Second World War, and particularly during the past decade, Canada has become increasingly aware of her northern frontier. Despite more activity, however,...

  6. 2 Engineering Considerations
    (pp. 31-42)

    Although frozen soil provides excellent bearing for a structure, its strength properties are greatly reduced with increase in temperature and, if thawed, may be lost to such an extent that it will not support even light loads. The most serious difficulties arise with those soils, usually fine-grained, that have large moisture (ice) contents. When thawed these materials turn to a slurry with little or no strength, and large settlements and perhaps failure of a structure may occur. Another factor to be considered is frost action in the active layer, which freezes and thaws seasonally. The active layer often consists of...

  7. 3 Development of Permafrost Investigations and Northern Settlement
    (pp. 43-54)

    Early references to unusual occurrences of frozen ground in the Canadian North are found in the records of early explorers. The first known mention of this phenomenon was made by Martin Frobisher in the latter years of the sixteenth century. Between 1576 and 1578 he organized and led three expeditions to southern Baffin Island to find a northwest passage. Attempts were made to found a settlement, and mine ore considered to contain gold. It was during the excavation of ore that frozen ground was encountered and recorded in his accounts.

    In his review of the history of permafrost investigations in...

  8. 4 Buildings
    (pp. 55-81)

    Buildings of many types and sizes exist in Canada’s permafrost region ranging from small houses to schools, hospitals, and large heavy-service and mining buildings. It is only within the last ten or fifteen years that large-scale construction has taken place and consideration given to providing permanent stable foundations for superstructures. Previously, most buildings were relatively small, light-weight, low-cost structures which could tolerate some movement. The thawing of the underlying permafrost, particularly in areas of fine-grained soils with high ice contents, reinforced by annual frost heaving in the active layer caused differential settlement of buildings. When this happened, the building was...

  9. 5 Services
    (pp. 82-104)

    The provision of services in towns and villages in northern Canada is greatly complicated by permafrost. Because of high capital and maintenance costs, due in large part to the presence of permafrost, only a few of the larger settlements are equipped with water distribution and sewage disposal systems similar to those in southern Canada. The provision of electricity to larger settlements is also affected in so far as power dams and related water-retaining structures have to be specially designed for permafrost conditions. Although permafrost is a handicap to the provision of services, it has been utilized (for example, as natural...

  10. 6 Transportation
    (pp. 105-138)

    From the first years of activity in Canada’s permafrost region, transportation has provided the key to exploration and economic development. In the early days of the fur trade around Hudson Bay and in the northwest, travel was along water routes and overland on foot. Permafrost presented no problems, and in fact its existence was hardly known or suspected. The first land route into northern Canada where the existence of permafrost was mentioned and documented as a problem was the Hudson Bay Railway, completed in 1929 from The Pas to Churchill to carry Prairie grain to Hudson Bay. The White Pass...

  11. 7 Mining and Oil Production
    (pp. 139-179)

    Mining is being conducted presently at only a few scattered locations in the permafrost region of Canada and virtually all in the Subarctic. In terms of the total national income derived from this economic activity, the extraction of mineral resources in these remote areas is almost insignificant, mainly because of the severe physical conditions, distance from markets, and high development and operating costs.

    However, the mineral resources of the Canadian north are potentially very promising. Ferrous and non-ferrous minerals occur in parts of the Precambrian Shield which stretches from the Atlantic seaboard westward for 2,000 miles to the eastern fringe...

  12. 8 Agriculture
    (pp. 180-203)

    Agriculture plays a minor role in Canada’s permafrost region compared to other human activities. Through the years of development of this region, and particularly since the Second World War, the amount of money and effort expended in construction and mining has amounted to many millions of dollars and man-hours. New towns have been built, transportation routes have been established, and new mines have been brought into production. These various endeavours add to a sum total of activity that is growing at an accelerating rate. On the other hand, agriculture, which has been marginal from the earliest years of development of...

  13. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 204-207)

    An examination of the ways in which permafrost affects the various spheres of man's existence in northern Canada shows that it exerts considerable influence on his activities there. Whether the permafrost occurs in scattered islands as near the southern limit of the discontinuous zone, or whether it is widespread and hundreds of feet thick as in the continuous zone, it is a factor meriting serious consideration in the development of an area.

    It is possible to divide the permafrost region into subregions of varying types of permafrost problems and the means of coping with them. For example, one well-established division...

  14. References
    (pp. 208-220)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 221-224)
  16. Index
    (pp. 225-234)