A 2D Electrical Resistivity Survey of Palsas in Tavvavuoma, sub-arctic Sweden
Abstract: Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) is a commonly used geophysical method to investigate permafrost in the mountain environment, but few studies have employed this method in a permafrost affected peatland. For this thesis, 5 ERT profiles were measured over 17 palsas and peat-plateaus in a palsa peatland environment in Tavvavuoma, northern Sweden, where the primary aim was to investigate the depth to the base of permafrost under the mounds. These depths are also used to estimate the excess ice fraction (EIF), which is indicative of the proportion of segregation ice in the frozen core under the mounds. The internal structure of palsas and the spatial distribution of permafrost was also investigated from the inverted resistivity models. Permafrost thickness was found to range from 5 – 17 m, with the thickest permafrost in the west end of the study area. EIF values range between 0,04 to 0,58, with the lowest values in the same end as the deepest permafrost, where also low mound elevations are found. The deep permafrost combined with low mound elevations are suggested to be attributed to the presence of coarse grained (glaciofluvial) sediments where ice segregation formation is limited, thus small amounts of frost heave. Deep permafrost is possibly underlying at least two thermokarst depressions/fens in the area, which is suggested to obstruct their drainage. The height of the mounds was surprisingly found to decrease with permafrost thickness, a relationship that is likely to be an effect of the varied underlying sediment cover. This thesis demonstrates the applicability of ERT in peatland permafrost research, but also considers the limitations of the method.
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