Transient Electromagnetic Surveys for the Determination of Talik Depth and Geometry Beneath Thermokarst Lakes

michael.angelopoulos [ at ]


Thermokarst lakes are prevalent in Arctic coastal lowland regions and sublake permafrost degradation and talik development contributes to greenhouse gas emissions by tapping the large permafrost carbon pool. Whereas lateral thermokarst lake expansion is readily apparent through remote sensing and shoreline measurements, sublake thawed sediment conditions and talik growth are difficult to measure. Here we combine transient electromagnetic surveys with thermal modeling, backed up by measured permafrost properties and radiocarbon ages, to reveal closed‐talik geometry associated with a thermokarst lake in continuous permafrost. To improve access to talik geometry data, we conducted surveys along three transient electromagnetic transects perpendicular to lakeshores with different decadal‐scale expansion rates of 0.16, 0.38, and 0.58 m/year. We modeled thermal development of the talik using boundary conditions based on field data from the lake, surrounding permafrost and a borehole, independent of the transient electromagnetics. A talik depth of 91 m was determined from analysis of the transient electromagnetic surveys. Using a lake initiation age of 1400 years before present and available subsurface properties the results from thermal modeling of the lake center arrived at a best estimate talk depth of 80 m, which is on the same order of magnitude as the results from the transient electromagnetic survey. Our approach has provided a noninvasive estimate of talik geometry suitable for comparable settings throughout circum‐Arctic coastal lowland regions.

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DOI 10.1029/2018JB016121

Cite as
Creighton, A. L. T. , Parsekian, A. D. , Angelopoulos, M. , Jones, B. M. , Bondurant, A. C. , Engram, M. , Lenz, J. , Overduin, P. , Grosse, G. , Babcock, E. L. and Arp, C. D. (2018): Transient Electromagnetic Surveys for the Determination of Talik Depth and Geometry Beneath Thermokarst Lakes , Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth, 123 (11), pp. 9310-9323 . doi: 10.1029/2018JB016121

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