The CEN has received the mandate of carrying out the Salluit project from the Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec. Under the direction of Michel Allard and with the collaboration of Richard Fortier (both CEN members), research is underway on geological, climatic, and geomorphological conditions linked to permafrost in the Salluit region, Nunavik. The objective is to characterize the active layer and the permafrost in order to evaluate the possible constraints due to climate changes on the development of this northern community.
The village is located in a side valley of Sugluk Fjord at the northern limit of Quebec. It the second northernmost community in Quebec. This region is part of the continuous permafrost zone. This Inuit community of 1,100 inhabitants has a high demographic growth. Nearly 60 % of the population is less than 25 years old. The village is confined to a narrow valley with 300 m steep slopes on each side. The natural environment is fragile. The problems in infrastructure building are caused by the clay soils, which are rich in ice. The community growth requires new residential and economic development, however few spaces of stable terrain are available for building new infrastructures.
Since 1997-1998, a warming of the climate in Nunavik has been observed by Environment Canada. In 2001, measurements made in the bedrock underneath Salluit airport demonstrated a similar warming of the permafrost. A landslide (rupture of the active layer) occurred in September 1998 and stopped the development of a new residential area. Climate warming is probably one of the causes of this event. Hence, improving knowledge on permafrost characteristics is considered very important for land use planning in Salluit.
The final step of the project will be to produce a map of permafrost conditions for construction purposes and to suggest appropriate building techniques taking into account future permafrost conditions.