ICDP Workshop: Co-ordinated Scientific Drilling in the Beaufort Sea: Addressing past, present and future changes in Arctic terrestrial and marine systems

Startdatum: 12 February, 2012
Enddatum: 15 February, 2012


The aim of this workshop is to define and integrate the scientific questions and drilling strategies required to assess environmental change and geohazards in the Beaufort Sea. The range of interrelated themes include the long-term glacial and sea-level history of the region; the global and regional significance of paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic conditions in the Beaufort Sea and Western Arctic; the critical boundary conditions and process linkages associated with permafrost and gas hydrate aggradation and degradation on the shelf; and how these processes are related to regional slope stability and geohazards.

The workshop will specifically aim to:

  • Define and integrate outstanding questions and hypotheses that need to be addressed through scientific drilling in the Beaufort Sea;
  • Identify key sites and drilling/instrumentation strategies required to answer these questions;
  • Address the associated technological challenges and potential drilling platforms; and
  • Coordinate the collection of new and synthesis of existing site survey data.

The anticipated outcome is a co-ordinated drilling and borehole instrumentation strategy that could be implemented through a linked IODP/ICDP proposal. The importance of such an effort was highlighted in the recently published IODP-INVEST report which recognized that “An integrated investigation of the stability of permafrost at the Arctic continental margin to the response of deepwater gas hydrates on the associated continental shelf would form an excellent opportunity to collaboratively link IODP and ICDP in a field of investigation of great societal relevance” (page 89).

The workshop will build upon an existing IODP pre-proposal targeting paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic records from the Mackenzie Trough, as well as an emerging ICDP proposal for offshore hydrate and permafrost drilling on the Beaufort Shelf. However, the scientific questions and potential drilling locations are not limited by these existing efforts.