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Subsea ice-bearing permafrost on the U.S. Beaufort Margin: 1. Minimum seaward extent defined from multichannel seismic reflection data

November 4, 2016

Subsea ice-bearing permafrost (IBPF) and associated gas hydrate in the Arctic have been subject to a warming climate and saline intrusion since the last transgression at the end of the Pleistocene. The consequent degradation of IBPF is potentially associated with significant degassing of dissociating gas hydrate deposits. Previous studies interpreted the distribution of subsea permafrost on the U.S. Beaufort continental shelf based on geographically sparse data sets and modeling of expected thermal history. The most cited work projects subsea permafrost to the shelf edge (∼100 m isobath). This study uses a compilation of stacking velocity analyses from ∼100,000 line-km of industry-collected multichannel seismic reflection data acquired over 57,000 km2 of the U.S. Beaufort shelf to delineate continuous subsea IBPF. Gridded average velocities of the uppermost 750 ms two-way travel time range from 1475 to 3110 m s−1. The monotonic, cross-shore pattern in velocity distribution suggests that the seaward extent of continuous IBPF is within 37 km of the modern shoreline at water depths < 25 m. These interpretations corroborate recent Beaufort seismic refraction studies and provide the best, margin-scale evidence that continuous subsea IBPF does not currently extend to the northern limits of the continental shelf.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Subsea ice-bearing permafrost on the U.S. Beaufort Margin: 1. Minimum seaward extent defined from multichannel seismic reflection data
DOI 10.1002/2016GC006584
Authors Laura L. Brothers, Bruce M. Herman, Patrick E. Hart, Carolyn D. Ruppel
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Series Number
Index ID 70178178
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center