Polygonal terrain is found in a variety of polar environments on Earth and Mars. As a result, many areas of northern Canada may represent ideal terrestrial analogues for specific regions of Mars - in particular the northern plains. In the Canadian Arctic, polygon troughs are commonly underlain by wedges of massive ice, with rare examples of other wedge types. If the same is true for Mars, this raises interesting implications for the processes that concentrate H2O at the Martian poles. This study uses an electromagnetic induction sensor to investigate the electromagnetic characteristics of terrestrial polar ice-wedge polygons. Surveys were conducted in two regions of the Canadian Arctic using a DUALEM-1S dual-geometry electromagnetic induction sensor, which measures electrical conductivity in the first 1.5-2 m of the subsurface. At locations where strong geomorphological evidence of ice was found, polygon troughs corresponded to local conductive anomalies. Trenching confirmed the presence of ice wedges at one site and allowed ground-truthing and calibration of the geophysical data. Previously unknown bodies of massive ice were also identified through the use of this geophysical technique. This study shows that an electromagnetic induction sounder is a useful instrument for detecting and mapping out the presence of subsurface ice in the Canadian Arctic. Taking together with its small size, portability and ruggedness, we suggest that this would also be a useful instrument for any future missions to Mars' polar regions.

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Planetary and Space Science
Department of Earth Sciences

Singleton, A.C. (Alaura C.), Osinski, G.R. (Gordon R.), Samson, C, Williamson, M.-C. (Marie-Claude), & Holladay, S. (Scott). (2010). Electromagnetic characterization of polar ice-wedge polygons: Implications for periglacial studies on Mars and Earth. Planetary and Space Science, 58(4), 472–481. doi:10.1016/j.pss.2009.09.013