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Comparing Approaches for Reconstructing Groundwater Levels in the Mountainous Regions of Interior British Columbia, Canada, Using Tree Ring Widths

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-12-19
Abstract: 

Observed groundwater level records are relatively short (<100 years), limiting long-term studies of groundwater variability that could provide valuable insight into climate change effects. This study uses tree ring data from the International Tree Ring Database (ITRDB) and groundwater level data from 22 provincial observation wells to evaluate different approaches for reconstructing groundwater levels from tree ring widths in the mountainous southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. The twenty-eight reconstruction models consider the selection of observation wells (e.g., regional average groundwater level vs. wells classified by recharge mechanism) and the search area for potential tree ring records (climate footprint vs. North American Ecoregions). Results show that if the climate footprint is used, reconstructions are statistically valid if the wells are grouped according to recharge mechanism, with streamflow-driven and high-elevation recharge-driven wells (both snowmelt-dominated) producing valid models. Of all the ecoregions considered, only the Coast Mountain Ecoregion models are statistically valid for both the regional average groundwater level and high-elevation recharge-driven systems. No model is statistically valid for low-elevation recharge-driven systems (rainfall-dominated). The longest models extend the groundwater level record to the year 1500, with the highest confidence in the later portions of the reconstructions going back to the year 1800.

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An Imbalancing Act: The Delayed Dynamic Response of the Kaskawulsh Glacier to Sustained Mass Loss

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-12-29
Abstract: 

The Kaskawulsh Glacier is an iconic outlet draining the icefields of the St. Elias Mountains in Yukon, Canada. We determine and attempt to interpret its catchment-wide mass budget since 2007. Using SPOT5/6/7 data we estimate a 2007–18 geodetic balance of −0.46 ± 0.17 m w.e. a−1. We then compute balance fluxes and observed ice fluxes at nine flux gates to examine the discrepancy between the climatic mass balance and internal mass redistribution by glacier flow. Balance fluxes are computed using a fully distributed mass-balance model driven by downscaled and bias-corrected climate-reanalysis data. Observed fluxes are calculated using NASA ITS_LIVE surface velocities and glacier cross-sectional areas derived from ice-penetrating radar data. We find the glacier is still in the early stages of dynamic adjustment to its mass imbalance. We estimate a committed terminus retreat of ~23 km under the 2007–18 climate and a lower bound of 46 km3 of committed ice loss, equivalent to ~15% of the total glacier volume.

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Article
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Genetics of Century-Old Fish Scales Reveal Population Patterns of Decline

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-08-20
Abstract: 

Conservation scientists rarely have the information required to understand changes in abundance over more than a few decades, even for important species like Pacific salmon. Such lack of historical information can underestimate the magnitude of decline for depressed populations. We applied genetic tools to a unique collection of 100‐year‐old salmon scales to reveal declines of 56%–99% in wild sockeye populations across Canada's second largest salmon watershed, the Skeena River. These analyses reveal century‐long declines that are much greater than those based on modern era abundance data, which suggested that only 7 of 13 populations declined over the last five decades. Populations of larger‐bodied fish have declined the most in abundance, likely because of size‐selective commercial fisheries. Our findings illustrate how a deep historical perspective can expand our understanding of past abundances to a time before species incurred significant losses from fishing, and help inform conservation for diminished populations.

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Late Cretaceous to Paleocene Tectonometamorphic Evolution of the Blanchard River Assemblage, Southwest Yukon: New Insight into the Terminal Accretion of Insular Terranes in the Northern Cordillera

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-09-21
Abstract: 

The Intermontane-Insular terrane boundary stretches over 2000 kilometers from British Columbia to Alaska in the western Cordillera. Juxtaposed between these terranes is a series of Jura-Cretaceous basinal and arc assemblages that record a complicated and contested tectonic evolution related to the Mesozoic-Paleocene accretionary history of northwestern North America. In southwest Yukon, west-verging thrust faults facilitated structural stacking of the Yukon-Tanana terrane over these basinal assemblages, including the Early Cretaceous Blanchard River assemblage. These previously undated compressional structures are thought to be related to the final collapse of the Jura-Cretaceous basins and the tectonic burial of the Blanchard River assemblage resulting in amphibolite facies metamorphism. New in situ U-Th-Pb monazite ages record at least three tectonic events: (1) the tectonic burial of the Blanchard River assemblage to amphibolite facies conditions between 83 and 76 Ma; (2) peak burial was followed by regional exhumation at ca. 70-68 Ma; and (3) intense heating and ca. 63-61 Ma low-pressure contact metamorphism attributed to the intrusion of the voluminous Ruby Range suite, which is part of the northern Coast Mountains batholith. The tectonometamorphic evolution recorded in the Blanchard River assemblage can be correlated to tectonism within southwest Yukon and along the length of the Insular-Intermontane boundary from western British Columbia through southwestern Yukon and Alaska. In southwest Yukon, these results suggest an asymmetric final collapse of Jura-Cretaceous basins during the Late Cretaceous, which relates to the terminal accretion of the Insular terranes as they moved northward.

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Melt Inclusion Vapour Bubbles: The Hidden Reservoir for Major and Volatile Elements

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-06-03
Abstract: 

Olivine-hosted melt inclusions (MIs) provide samples of magmatic liquids and their dissolved volatiles from deep within the plumbing system. Inevitable post-entrapment modifications can lead to significant compositional changes in the glass and/or any contained bubbles. Re-heating is a common technique to reverse MI crystallisation; however, its effect on volatile contents has been assumed to be minor. We test this assumption using crystallised and glassy basaltic MIs, combined with Raman spectroscopy and 3D imaging, to investigate the changes in fluid and solid phases in the bubbles before and after re-heating. Before re-heating, the bubble contains CO2 gas and anhydrite (CaSO4) crystallites. The rapid diffusion of major and volatile elements from the melt during re-heating creates new phases within the bubble: SO2, gypsum, Fe-sulphides. Vapour bubbles hosted in naturally glassy MIs similarly contain a plethora of solid phases (carbonates, sulphates, and sulphides) that account for up to 84% of the total MI sulphur, 80% of CO2, and 14% of FeO. In both re-heated and naturally glassy MIs, bubbles sequester major and volatile elements that are components of the total magmatic budget and represent a “loss” from the glass. Analyses of the glass alone significantly underestimates the original magma composition and storage parameters.

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Article
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Physical Volcanology of Tseax Volcano, British Columbia, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-05-12
Abstract: 

Tseax volcano erupted ∼ 250 years ago in NW British Columbia, Canada producing tephra deposits and lava flows. Field mapping has defined the stratigraphy of Tseax and the lava flow morphologies. Aerial photogrammetry and bathymetry surveys were used to create a high resolution digital elevation model of the volcano to facilitate mapping and estimates of erupted material volumes. Tseax volcano (∼ 10.4 ± 0.7 × 106 m3) comprises an outer breached spatter rampart and an inner conical tephra cone. Tseax is associated with a 32 km long and 0.49 ± 0.08 km3 basanite-to-tephrite lava flow field covering ∼ 36 km2 and divided into 4 distinct lava flows with heterogeneous surface morphologies. We present a volcanological map of Tseax volcano at a scale of 1:22,500. This will serve as supporting information for further research on the eruptive history of Tseax volcano and the lava flow field emplacement.

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Article
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Multi-decadal Reduction in Glacier Velocities and Mechanisms Driving Deceleration at Polythermal White Glacier, Arctic Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-02-27
Abstract: 

Annual and seasonal surface velocities measured continuously from 1960 to 1970 at White Glacier, a 14 km long polythermal valley glacier spanning ~100–1800 m a.s.l., provide the most comprehensive early record of ice dynamics in the Canadian Arctic. Through comparison with differential GPS-derived velocity data spanning 2012–16, we find reductions in mean annual velocity by 31 and 38% at lower elevations (600 and 400 m a.s.l.). These are associated with decreased internal ice deformation due to ice thinning and reduced basal motion likely due to increased hydraulic efficiency in recent years. At higher elevation (~850 m a.s.l.) there is no detectable change in annual velocity and the expected decrease in internal deformation rates due to ice thinning is offset by increased basal motion in both summer and winter, likely attributable to supraglacial melt accessing a still inefficient subglacial drainage system. Decreases in mass flux at lower elevations since the 1960s cannot explain the observed elevation loss of ~20 m, meaning that ice thinning along the glacier trunk is primarily a function of downwasting rather than changing ice dynamics. The current response of the glacier exemplifies steady thinning, velocity slowdown and upstream retreat of the ELA but, because the glacier has an unstable geometry with considerable mass in the 1300–1500 m elevation range, a retreat of the ELA to >1300 plausible within 25–40 years, could trigger runaway wastage.

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Article
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Estimating Winter Balance and Its Uncertainty from Direct Measurements of Snow Depth and Density on Alpine Glaciers

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-09-26
Abstract: 

Accurately estimating winter surface mass balance on glaciers is central to assessing glacier health and predicting glacier run-off. However, measuring and modelling snow distribution is inherently difficult in mountainous terrain. Here, we explore rigorous statistical methods of estimating winter balance and its uncertainty from multiscale measurements of snow depth and density. In May 2016, we collected over 9000 manual measurements of snow depth across three glaciers in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon, Canada. Linear regression, combined with cross-validation and Bayesian model averaging, as well as ordinary kriging are used to interpolate point-scale values to glacier-wide estimates of winter balance. Elevation and a wind-redistribution parameter exhibit the highest correlations with winter balance, but the relationship varies considerably between glaciers. A Monte Carlo analysis reveals that the interpolation itself introduces more uncertainty than the assignment of snow density or the representation of grid-scale variability. For our study glaciers, the winter balance uncertainty from all assessed sources ranges from 0.03 to 0.15 m w.e. (5–39%). Despite the challenges associated with estimating winter balance, our results are consistent with a regional-scale winter-balance gradient.

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Article
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Precious Metal Enrichment at the Myra Falls VMS Deposit, British Columbia, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-11-15
Abstract: 

Gold, present as electrum, in the Battle Gap, Ridge North-West, HW, and Price deposits at the Myra Falls mine, occurs in late veinlets cutting the earlier volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) lithologies. The ore mineral assemblage containing the electrum comprises dominantly galena, tennantite, bornite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, pyrite, and rarely stromeyerite, and is defined as an Au-Zn-Pb-As-Sb association. The gangue is comprised of barite, quartz, and minor feldspathic volcanogenic sedimentary rocks and clay, comprised predominantly of kaolinite with subordinate illite. The deposition of gold as electrum in the baritic upper portions of the sulphide lenses occurs at relatively shallow water depths beneath the sea floor. Primary, pseudosecondary, and secondary fluid inclusions, petrographically related to gold, show boiling fluid inclusion assemblages in the range of 123 to 173 °C, with compositions and eutectic melt temperatures consistent with seawater at approximately 3.2 wt % NaCl equivalent. The fluid inclusion homogenization temperatures are consistent with boiling seawater corresponding to water depths ranging from 15 to 125 m. Slightly more dilute brines corresponding to salinities of approximately 1 wt % NaCl indicate that there is input from very low-salinity brines, which could represent a transition from subaqueous VMS to epithermal-like conditions for precious metal enrichment, mixing with re-condensed vapor, or very low-salinity igneous fluids.

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Lithostratigraphic and Magnetostratigraphic Data From Late Cenozoic Glacial and Proglacial Sequences Underlying the Altiplano at La Paz, Bolivia

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-05-19
Abstract: 

We provide lithostratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic data derived from a Plio-Pleistocene continental sediment sequence underlying the Altiplano plateau at La Paz, Bolivia. The record comprises six sections along the upper Río La Paz valley, totaling over one kilometre of exposure and forming a ~20-km transect oblique to the adjacent Cordillera Real. Lithostratigraphic characterization includes lithologic and stratigraphic descriptions of units and their contacts. We targeted gravel and diamicton units for paleomagnetic sampling to address gaps in the only previous magnetostratigraphic study from this area. Paleomagnetic data – magnetic susceptibility and primary remanent magnetization revealed by progressive alternating field demagnetization – are derived from 808 individually oriented samples of flat-lying, fine-grained sediments. The datasets enable characterization of paleo-surfaces within the sequence, correlation between stratigraphic sections, and differentiation of asynchronous, but lithologically similar units. Correlation of the composite polarity sequence to the geomagnetic polarity time scale supports a range of late Cenozoic paleoenvironmental topics of regional to global importance: the number and ages of early glaciations in the tropical Andes; interhemispheric comparison of paleoclimate during the Plio-Pleistocene climatic transition; timing of and controls on inter-American faunal exchange; and the variability of Earth's paleomagnetic field.

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