Original paper

Maintaining the Integrity of the Environment in an Arctic Delta During Modernization

Walker, H. Jesse; McGraw, M.


Many parts of the Arctic are being modified by ever-increasing rates of political, industrial and commercial activity. Early developers gave little thought about their effect on the environment. One area now being subjected to modernization is the Colville River Delta in Arctic Alaska, USA. Although long a key location for Inuit fishing and hunting, remnants of their presence are a few turf-house foundations. Major changes began in 1973 when the town of Nuiqsut was founded. About the same time, the integrity of the Arctic was becoming a major concern, a concern that led to numerous governmental and industrial regulations. Changes to the Delta include the construction of numerous buildings insulated from the fragile tundra surface, the development of two major runways, the construction of a large oil field and its pipelines, and a road system. Successful construction in a permafrost-dominated landscape demands techniques that preserve its frozen characteristic. The geomorphic impact on the Delta has been minimal primarily for two reasons: strict regulation of construction on the North Slope and the recency of its development allowing developers to take advantage of the technological improvements that accompany arctic engineering.


inupiatpetroleum industrydeltaarcticnpr-a