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Abstract

Submarine slope failures in the nearshore waters of SE Baffin Island, eastern Canadian Arctic, present a challenge to coastal and seabed development. Submarine slope failures are a known geohazard in fjords in Norway, Chile, Alaska, British Columbia and elsewhere, but have received little attention in the coastal waters of Arctic Canada. Over the past 6 years, there has been a rapid expansion of multibeam echosounder (MBES) mapping in Canadian Arctic fjords, leading to the discovery of many submarine slope failures. One area that has been mapped in detail is inner Frobisher Bay. This macrotidal, seasonally ice-covered, semi-enclosed embayment has a glacially scoured bed, ice-contact deposits, including recessional moraines, and stratified glaciomarine and post-glacial silts and clays with abundant dropstones. The prevalence of submarine slope failures in the inner bay (one per 20 km2) appears to be anomalous. To date, MBES mapping has imaged at least 246 failures, ranging in size from 0.007 to 2.1 km2 and all within the glaciomarine and post-glacial succession. Morphometric analysis of these features based on high-resolution MBES bathymetry provides an insight into their spatial distribution, relative chronology, triggers and flow characteristics; factors essential to understanding the mechanisms underlying their abundance in this Canadian Arctic fjord.

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