North America’s largest oilfield was discovered in 1968 at Prudhoe Bay; it contained over ten billion barrels of recoverable oil about 3000 m beneath the Arctic Coastal Plain. Its development changed Alaska’s economy for ever, and included building the oil pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. The haul road alongside the pipeline is still the only road across northern Alaska, and was named the Dalton Highway when it was opened to public access. It crosses the wilderness of the Brooks Range (1Fig. 1), and allows completion of a north–south traverse of Alaska, across a broad range of geology...

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