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Groundwater and pingos

Proposed study of the geomorphology of several pingos in Dunderdalen and Chamberlindalen and fluid sampling of these.

Proposed study of the geomorphology of several pingos in Dunderdalen and Chamberlindalen and fluid sampling of these plus other non-pingo groundwater springs in the area to determine the sources of, and the biogeochemical processes acting on, the fluids.

What is the purpose of the fieldwork?

There are 5 known pingos in the Dunderdalen and Chamberlindalen area. These landforms represent sites where the potential for sub-permafrost fluid (water and gas) escape is very high, as demonstrated in Adventdalen and Reindalen by Hodson et al (2019; 2020).

The group proposes to investigate the geomorphology of the pingos and sample the groundwaters emerging from them, as well as from the other identifiable, non-pingo, groundwater springs in the area. These alternative sites include perennial springs draining faults and also winter drainage sites at glacier margins.

Water samples will be taken for full geochemical characterisation in order to understand the sources of the water and the gases, as well as the biogeochemical processes occurring beneath the permafrost. It is anticipated that high concentrations of methane will be encountered in the pingo springs, because there are fault systems that will allow fluid migration from beneath marine clays which have been uplifted and frozen, forming a tight confining layer at the upper permafrost surface. If successful, the study will document the migration of methane for the first time from outside the Central Tertiary Basin of Svalbard, and therefore help us understand sub-permafrost biogenic gas accumulation in areas without coal bed methane and shale gas influence.

The group proposes to also visit at least two other landforms in upper Chamberlindalen to confirm that there are more pingos in the area than are shown on the existing maps. This work will go toward an updated inventory of pingos across Svalbard that is being undertaken by University of Svalbard researchers. In so doing, we will be mapping the southernmost pingos on the archipelago. The work will require three days in each area, with camping in southern Chamberlinpasset for one or two nights. Non-destructive sampling of water and sediments will be undertaken on two occasions at each site.

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