In high latitudes the large difference between the mean annual temperature at the ground surface and in the unfrozen sediments beneath bodies of water can affect ground temperatures to depths of several hundred feet. The effect is of particular interest near the edge of the ocean where it depends upon the magnitude of the temperature difference between the land surface and ocean bottom, the thermal properties of the ground materials, and past changes in climate and/or shore-line configuration. Theoretical considerations suggest that, except where there are transgressing shore lines, permafrost to depths greater than about 100 feet beneath the ocean bottom is not to be expected at points farther than a few thousand feet offshore. Similar considerations indicate that geothermal installations along the Arctic coast can give information regarding post-Pleistocene shore-line changes.
The geothermal effects of bodies of water offer an explanation for the anomalously large outward earth-heat flow recently reported by A. D. Misener for Resolute Bay, Cornwallis Island, N. W. T., Canada.