Devon Island

Devon Island

Devon Island, c.20,900 sq mi (54,100 sq km), Nunavut Territory, Canada, between Baffin and Ellesmere islands.

One of the larger members of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Devon Island is the second-largest of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Nunavut, Canada, the 27th largest island in the world and Canada's 6th largest island. The largest uninhabited island on Earth, Devon Island comprises of Precambrian gneiss and Paleozoic siltstones and shales. The highest point is the Devon Ice Cap at which is part of the Arctic Cordillera. Devon Island contains several small mountain ranges, such as the Treuter Mountains, Haddington Range and the Cunningham Mountains.

Because of its relatively high elevation and its extreme northern latitude, it supports only a meagre population of musk oxen and small birds and mammals; the island does support hypolith communities. Animal life is concentrated in the Truelove Lowland area of the island, which has a favourable microclimate and supports relatively lush Arctic vegetation. Temperatures during the brief (40 to 55 days) growing season seldom exceed 10 °C (50 °F), and in winter can plunge to as low as −50 °C (−58 °F). With a polar desert ecology, Devon Island receives very little precipitation.

Devon Island is also notable for the presence of the Haughton impact crater, created some 39 million years ago when a meteorite about 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter crashed into what were then forests. The impact left a crater approximately 23 km (14 mi) in diameter, which was a lake for several million years.

History

An outpost was established at Dundas Harbour in August 1924 as part of a government presence intended to curb foreign whaling and other activity. The outpost was leased to Hudson's Bay Company in 1933.

The collapse of fur prices and the need to cut relief expenses led to the dispersal of 53 Baffin Island Inuit families on the island in 1934. It was considered a disaster due to wind conditions and the much colder climate, and the Inuit chose to leave in 1936. Dundas Harbour was populated again in the late 1940s to maintain a patrol presence, but it was closed again in 1951 due to ice difficulties.

Only the ruins of a few buildings remain at Dundas Harbour.

Scientific research

The Flashline MARS (Mars Arctic Research Station) project entered its third season in 2004. In July 2004, Devon Island became the temporary home for five scientists and two journalists, who were to use the Mars-like environment to simulate living and working on the Red Planet. April 2007 through 21 August 2007 was the longest simulation period and included 20 scientific studies.

The Haughton crater is now considered one of Earth's best Mars analog sites. It is the summer home to a complementary scientific program, NASA's Haughton Mars Project. HMP has conducted geological, hydrological, botanical, and microbiological studies in this harsh environment since 1997. HMP-2008 is the twelfth field season at Devon Island.

Notes

References

Further reading

  • Anderson, David G, and L C Bliss. 1998. "Association of Plant Distribution Patterns and Microenvironments on Patterned Ground in a Polar Desert, Devon Island, N.W.T., Canada". Arctic and Alpine Research. 30, no. 2: 97.
  • Bliss, L. C. Truelove Lowland, Devon Island, Canada A High Arctic Ecosystem. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1977. ISBN 0888640145 (Publisher description)
  • Cockell, Charles S, Pascal Lee, Andrew C Schuerger, Loretta Hidalgo, Jeff A Jones, and M Dale Stokes. 2001. "Microbiology and Vegetation of Micro-Oases and Polar Desert, Haughton Impact Crater, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada". Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. 33, no. 3: 306.
  • Lamoureux, Scott F, and Robert Gilbert. 2004. "A 750-Yr Record of Autumn Snowfall and Temperature Variability and Winter Storminess Recorded in the Varved Sediments of Bear Lake, Devon Island, Arctic Canada". Quaternary Research. 61, no. 2: 134.
  • Paterson, W. S. B. "An Oxygen-Isotope Climate Record from the Devon Island Ice Cap, Arctic Canada". Nature, Vol.266,No.5602. 1977.
  • Robertson, Peter, and G. D. Mason. Shatter Cones from Haughton Dome, Devon Island, Canada. 1975.
  • Thorsteinsson, R., and Ulrich Mayr. The Sedimentary Rocks of Devon Island, Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Ottawa, Canada: Geological Survey of Canada, 1987. ISBN 0660123193
  • Ugolini, Fiorenzo C, Giuseppe Corti, and Giacomo Certini. 2007. "Pedogenesis in the Sorted Patterned Ground of Devon Plateau, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada". Geoderma. 136, no. 1: 87.

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