Melville Island (Northwest Territories and Nunavut)

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Melville Island
MelvilleIslandCloseupMap.png
Closeup of Melville Island
Melville Island, Canada.svg
Geography
Location Northern Canada
Coordinates 75°30′N 111°30′W / 75.500°N 111.500°W / 75.500; -111.500 (Melville Island)Coordinates: 75°30′N 111°30′W / 75.500°N 111.500°W / 75.500; -111.500 (Melville Island)
Archipelago Queen Elizabeth Islands
Canadian Arctic Archipelago
Area 42,149 km2 (16,274 sq mi)
Area rank 33rd
Length 341 km (211.9 mi)
Width 210–292 km (130–181 mi)
Country
Territory  Northwest Territories
 Nunavut
Demographics
Population 0
Melville Island, Canada
Satellite photo montage of Melville Island
Melville Island, Canada (Admiralty Chart 1862)

Melville Island is a vast, uninhabited island of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago with an area of 42,149 km2 (16,274 sq mi). It is the 33rd largest island in the world and Canada's eighth largest island. Melville Island is shared by the Northwest Territories, which is responsible for the western half of the island, and Nunavut, which is responsible for the eastern half. The border runs along the 110th meridian west. The mountains on Melville Island, some of the largest in the western Canadian Arctic, reach heights of one thousand metres.

Geography[edit]

The island has little or no vegetation. Where continuous vegetation occurs, it usually consists of hummocks of mosses, lichens, grasses, and sedges. The only woody species, the dwarf willow, grows as a dense twisted mat crawling along the ground. However, a diverse animal population exists: Polar bear, Peary Caribou, muskox, Northern Collared Lemming, Arctic Wolf, Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, and Ermine (Stoat) are common. A 2003 sighting of a Grizzly bear and grizzly tracks by an expedition from the University of Alberta represent the most northerly reports of grizzly bears ever recorded.

Melville Island is one of two major breeding grounds for a small sea goose, the Brant Goose. DNA analysis and field observations suggest that these birds may be distinct from other brant stocks. Numbering 4,000-8,000 birds, this could be one of the rarest goose stocks in the world.

History[edit]

The first European to visit Melville Island was the British explorer Sir William Parry in 1819. He was forced to spend the winter at what is now called "Winter Harbour", until August 1, 1820, owing to freeze-up of the sea.[1] The island is named for Robert Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville who was First Sea Lord at the time. In the search for Franklin's lost expedition, its east coast was explored as far as Bradford Point by Dr. Abraham Bradford in 1851, while its north and west coasts were surveyed by Francis Leopold McClintock, Richard Vesey Hamilton and George Henry Richards in 1853.[2][3][4]

In 1930, a large sandstone rock marking Parry's 1819 wintering site at Winter Harbour, approximately 5.5 metres (18 ft) long and 3 metres (9.8 ft) high, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.[5]

Fossil fuel deposits[edit]

Melville has surfaced as a candidate for natural gas deposits. The island was believed to have deposits of coal and oil shale since the first half of the 20th century.[6][7] The first Canadian Arctic island exploratory well was spudded in 1961 at Winter Harbour.[8][9][10][11] It drilled Lower Paleozoic strata to a total depth of 3,823 m (12,543 ft). In the 1970s, the northern portion of the island on the east side of the Sabine Peninsula proved to contain a major gas field, known as Drake Point. The lease was owned by Panarctic Oils, a joint operation with the Canadian Government.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Parry, William Edward (1821). Journal of a voyage for the discovery of a North-West passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific: performed in the years 1819-20. London: John Murray. 
  2. ^ M'Dougall, George F. (1857). The eventful voyage of H.M. discovery ship "Resolute" to the Arctic regions, in search of Sir John Franklin and the missing crews of H.M. discovery ships "Erebus" and "Terror," 1852, 1853, 1854. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts. 
  3. ^ Murphy, David (2004). The Arctic Fox: Francis Leopold McClintock, discoverer of the fate of Franklin. Toronto: Dundurn Press. 
  4. ^ Savours, Ann (1999). The Search for the North West Passage. New York: St. Marten's Press. 
  5. ^ Parry's Rock Wintering Site. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Canadian Arctic Islands". Retrieved 2010-06-21. "The Kanguk Formation, a basinal bituminous shale, was deposited from the Turonian to the Maastrichtian." 
  7. ^ D.M. Edwards (1938-07-27). "Treasure of the Arctic". Christian Science Monitor. p. WM4. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  8. ^ "History of the Canadian Oil Industry (Key Dates)". Geo-Help Inc. Retrieved 2010-06-21. 
  9. ^ "Canada's Arctic". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2010-06-21. "The first Arctic Island well was drilled in 1961-62 by Dome Petroleum on Melville Island. Other wells followed on Cornwallis and Bathurst Islands. Although wells were abandoned, Melville Island was the site of further significant gas discoveries. Panarctic Petroleum, made up of industry and government initiatives, found gas at Drake Point on Melville Island in 1969." 
  10. ^ "Rediscovering High Arctic riches". Vancouver Sun. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2010-06-21. "Panarctic had discovered a huge gas field at Drake Point on Melville Island in 1968. It was so big it took 14 wells to delineate." 
  11. ^ "Riches beckon, but the risks are high". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2010-06-21. "When the federal government issued a call for bids to explore the islands of the High Arctic last year, no one stepped to the plate. Several companies discovered oil and gas fields around Melville Island in the 1970s, but eventually abandoned the projects due to high costs." 

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Arctic Pilot Project (Canada). Environmental Statement : Melville Island Components. [Calgary, Alta.?]: Arctic Pilot Project, 1979.
  • Barnett, D. M., S. A. Edlung, and L. A. Dredge. Terrain Characterization and Evaluation An Example from Eastern Melville Island. Paper (Geological Survey of Canada), 76-23. Ottawa: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, 1977. ISBN 0-660-00812-2
  • Buchanan, Robert A., William E. Cross, and Denis H. Thomson. Survey of the Marine Environment of Bridport Inlet, Melville Island. Calgary: Distributed by Pallister Resource Management Ltd, 1980.
  • Christie, Robert Loring, and N. J. McMillan. The Geology of Melville Island, Arctic Canada. Ottawa, Canada: Geological Survey of Canada, 1994. ISBN 0-660-14982-6
  • Dominion Observatory (Canada), and A. Spector. A Gravity Survey of the Melville Island Ice Caps. Canada Dominion Observatory Contributions, 07:7. 1967.
  • Hodgson, D. A. Quaternary Geology of Western Melville Island, Northwest Territories. Ottawa, Canada: Geological Survey of Canada, 1992. ISBN 0-660-13809-3
  • Hotzel, Charles Neish Duncan. Terrain Disturbance on the Christopher Formation, Melville Island, NWT. Ottawa: Carleton University, Dept. of Geography, 1973.
  • McGregor, D. C., and M. Camfield. Middle Devonian Miospores from the Cape De Bray, Weatherall, and Hecla Bay Formations of Northeastern Melville Island, Canadian Arctic. Ottawa: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, 1982. ISBN 0-660-11084-9
  • Shea, Iris V., and Heather Watts. Deadman's Melville Island & Its Burial Ground. [Tantallon, N.S.]: Glen Margaret Pub, 2005. ISBN 0-920427-68-5
  • Shearer, David Lloyd. Modern and Early Holocene Arctic Deltas, Melville Island, N.W.T., Canada. S.l: s.n., 1974.
  • Steen, O. A., and Z. D. Hora. Landscape Survey Eastern Melville Island, N.W.T. Calgary: R.M. Hardy & Associates, 1978.
  • Thomas, Donald C., W. J. Edmonds, and H. J. Armbruster. Range types and their relative use by Peary caribou and muskoxen on Melville Island, NWT. Edmonton, AB: Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, 1999.
  • Trettin, Hans Peter, and L. V. Hills. Lower Triassic Tar Sands of Northwestern Melville Island, Arctic Archipelago. [Ottawa]: Dept. of Energy, Mines and Resources, 1966.

External links[edit]