Abstract

A long-term sediment budget (1947−1985) for northern Richards Island shows that, when ground ice and offshore erosion are accounted for, there is a near balance between headland erosion and coastal deposition. Excess ice constitutes about 20% of the total volume of eroded material from the headlands, with massive ground ice contributing nearly 9% and segregated ice lenses and ice wedges making up the remainder. Coastal response to major storms in 1987 and 1993 suggests that erosion is episodic, with short periods of intense disruption followed by readjustment of cliff profiles. Processes characteristic of this environment include mechanical erosion of ice-bonded sediments creating unstable erosional niches, mechanical failure of niches along ice-wedge planes, and longer term thermal erosion of ice-bonded sediments. Where ice contents are high, localized thaw slumps initiated by coastal erosion may retreat at rates substantially higher than those observed at other sections of the coast. Cliff-top retreat rates may be out of phase with storm-event chronology.

You do not currently have access to this article.