Geomorphic Feature Mapping along the Dempster Highway and Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk Highway Corridor, Yukon and Northwest Territories, Canada



Wendy Sladen –



W.E. Sladen – Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada
P.D. Morse – Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada
S.V. Kokelj – Northwest Territories Geological Survey, Yellowknife, NT, Canada
R.J.H. Parker – Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada
S.L. Smith – Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada


Thaw of ice-rich permafrost can reduce ground stability, modify terrain, and alter drainage patterns, affecting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and presenting significant challenges to critical infrastructure and northern societies. The landforms that arise due to permafrost and periglacial processes can indicate ground ice presence and sensitive permafrost terrain. To map spatial variability in periglacial terrain conditions, we developed a robust methodology to classify and digitize key landforms using high-resolution satellite imagery. Hydrological, periglacial, and mass movement landforms were identified at 1:10 000 scale, and digitized at 1:5000, within 5 km of the Dempster and Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk Highway (8411 km2). Results indicate that distribution of the 8850 landforms mapped varies with physiographic region. The northern-most 3277 km2 contain the majority of the periglacial (82%) and hydrological (88%) features and reflect the extent of ground ice and permafrost-thaw sensitivity in this region. Tuktoyaktuk Coastlands alone contain the greatest density of landforms by an order of magnitude compared to the other physiographic regions. Mass movement features dominate the southern 60% of the corridor, which coincidentally has the highest relative relief. These data provide a basis for developing relationships between landforms and landscape characteristics and for developing spatial models of landscape thaw susceptibility.

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