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A grand expedition in the Canadian Arctic

The Canadian icebreaker CCGS Amundsen searching for a way through the ice to reach a sampling station.
Photo Credit: Pascal Rioux

Researchers and a technician from Rimouski’s ocean sciences institute (This link will take you to another Web site ISMER) (French only), based at the Université du Québec à Rimouski, recently participated in a large-scale oceanographic expedition in the Canadian Arctic, aboard the Canadian icebreaker This link will take you to another Web site CCGS Amundsen, to collect marine sediment samples that will help reconstruct the climatic and oceanographic variations since the last ice age.

Professor in marine geochemistry and geology, This link will take you to another Web site Jean-Carlos Montero-Serrano (French only), PhD candidate in This link will take you to another Web site oceanography (French only), Charles-Édouard Deschamps, ISMER technician Pascal Rioux, and researcher Thomas Richerol embarked on this expedition, from August 25 to October 6, as part of work with This link will take you to another Web site ArcticNet, a Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada.

Professor Montero-Serrano is co-lead of core drilling operations with the Geological Survey of Canada and gave a positive assessment of the scientific expedition, “We collected two piston cores, three gravity cores, and 45 box cores in the Mackenzie Shelf, the Amundsen Gulf, the McClure Strait, the Banks Island plateau, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, and the north-east of Baffin Bay.”

This great spatial coverage will provide a better picture of the nature, source and transport of sediments deposited at the bottom of a large part of the Canadian Arctic. Given the current situation of global warming, this information will serve as a point of comparison to better document Arctic climatic variation over the Quaternary Period.

“The different sediment cores that we collected are unique archives of the environmental and oceanographic variations in the Canadian Arctic Ocean since the last ice age,” explains Charles-Édouard Deschamps. “One of the objectives of my thesis is to reconstruct the changes from the terrigenous material, sediment transport mechanisms, and sediment dynamic over time in the western Arctic using mineralogical, geochemical, and magnetic indicators found in marine sediments.” Deschamps expects to complete his thesis in 2017.

During the expedition, Pascal Rioux had the opportunity to strengthen his training on the operation of the piston corer, a major process that requires many hours to complete. “The Geological Survey of Canada only had good things to say about Pascal’s work and leadership during the core drilling operations,” said professor Montero-Serrano.

“The expedition was a unique opportunity to work on the best Canadian icebreaker for oceanographic research in the Arctic. The CCGS Amundsen is truly a floating science laboratory,” said Thomas Richerol, who uses dinocysts preserved in sediments to reconstruct the oceanic surface conditions in the Canadian Arctic and the Labrador Sea over the past millennia.

The cores collected throughout the expedition will be stored and analyzed in ISMER’s marine geology laboratory. They will serve as a reference for the future Master’s and PhD students that professor Montero-Serrano plans to recruit over the next few months and years.

This article was adapted with permission from the This link will take you to another Web site Université du Québec à Rimouski (French only).

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