Bedfast and floating ice lake talik properties measured using surface nuclear magnetic resonance on the North Slope, Alaska
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Lakes within permafrost regions have been identified as a source of carbon gas emissions, however the geometry of the thawed sediments and water content below these lakes that hold the carbon-rich source sediment remains difficult to measure. Surface nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a geophysical measurement that is unambiguously sensitive to liquid water and therefore is well suited to discriminating between the sub-lake talik (thaw bulb) and surrounding permafrost. Here we report on talik thickness, water content, and pore scale properties observed using surface NMR in lakes located on the Arctic Coastal Plain of northern Alaska. The study lakes range in size from 0.5 km – 2 km in diameter. They have formed within a Pleistocene sand sheet deposit where permafrost extends 200 to 300 m below the surface. Lake depth ranges from less than 1 m (bedfast ice) to 5 m (floating ice); drained lake basins with no water or water ice were also measured for comparison. Floating ice lakes are interpreted to have a talik between 20 – 25 m below the surface. Bedfast ice lakes had either no measureable talik, a talik to < 20 m, or an isolated talik. Drained lake basins had either no measureable talik or an isolated talik. The presence of isolated taliks below some bedfast ice lakes and drained lake basins was a surprising result, suggesting that zones of unfrozen sediment may be present in the region even when the surface conditions suggest otherwise. These results of talik presence/absence and geometry bring new insight into permafrost-influenced lake subsurface hydrology and provide value data for validating hydrological modeling outputs. Our application of using surface NMR on Arctic Lakes will be extended to the region with numerous thermokarst lakes and drained lake basins north of Teshekpuk Lake next April.