Photo by Colleague at Halle-Wittenberg University

Igarka Geocryology Laboratory

STATION NAME AND OWNER

The Igarka Geocryology Laboratory is a scientific affiliation of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk (Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences).

LOCATION

The Igarka Geocryology Laboratory is situated in Igarka (67°27’11’’ N, 86°32’07’’ E), on the right bank of the largest Russian river Yenisei, 120 km north of the Arctic Circle. Igarka belongs to the Turukhansk District (Krasnoyarsk Region), and it has 4892 inhabitants (2011).

BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

Igarka is situated at the north-western part of the Siberian platform, on the western edge of the Tunguska syneclise, one of the largest sedimentary basins of the world. The terrain is ? glacio-lacustrine plain, about 70 m above the low level of Yenisei River. It is shaped by a variety of permafrost processes, with thermokarst lakes, glacial processes, and pingos. The climate in Igarka is moderate continental, with low winter temperatures and relatively warm summers. The air temperatures are below zero for about 225 days per year, with an average of 70 rainy and 130 snowy days. The area is dominated by the Yenisei River with a mean annual discharge of about 18 000 m3/s and a peak flow of about 160 000 m3/s. The hydrological network is well developed with typical Western Siberian tundra rivers (Yenisei River left bank) and Eastern Siberian taiga rivers (Yenisei River right bank). Due to permafrost degradation, i.e. ground ice thawing, thermokarst lakes are widely distributed. The Northern taiga with relatively dense taiga forests (dominated by larch, fir, birch, and Siberian pine) is the common vegetation type. In the shrub layer, willow and alder are widespread, together with marsh tea and blueberries. Tundra communities dominate the watershed divides, widely represented by peatbogs covered with carex, cloudberries, cotton grass, and bog moss. The hydroclimatic conditions lead to the formation of different permafrost-affected clay soils.

HISTORY AND FACILITIES

Since the establishment in 1930, researchers of the Igarka Geocryology Laboratory have conducted construction-engineering tests and regional permafrost studies. The research resulted in the development of new construction techniques in permafrost. Intensive studies regarding the physical and mechanical properties of frozen soils, permafrost processes, soil moisture migration in freeze-thaw cycles, and frost heave have been carried out. The use of novel engineering techniques in permafrost in the Soviet-era was strongly linked to the Igarka Research Station. Regional features were also extensively studied: Igarka was used as a “base camp” for field research in Western and Eastern Siberia, and northern and southern parts of the Krasnoyarsk Region. There is also the Museum of Permafrost (founded in 1965) with frozen tunnels more than 5 m below the surface. GENERAL RESEARCH AND DATABASES
Nowadays the laboratory is continuing the research in regional and engineering geocryology. Current projects include long-term monitoring of ground ice from the Arctic Circle to Norilsk, a 100.100 m grid of the CALM project (Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring), geothermal measurements in a network of boreholes, studies of permafrost processes, permafrost hydrology, water turbidity, and sediment-fl ux. Methods of construction on high-temperature, ice-rich permafrost and the development of new foundation types are the main engineering research aspects.

HUMAN DIMENSION

The Igarka Geocyrology Labaratory is situated in the town of Igarka. Until the early 1990s the Igarka Timber Factory was the key economic activity in the area, but after the prohibition of lumber floating down the river, the factory was closed, thus undermining the city’s economy. Current economy is mainly determined by the river and sea ports, the modern airport, and the service departments of “Vankoroil”, the Vankor Oil Field operator (the oil field is located about 130 km west of Igarka).

ACCESS

Igarka can be reached by air and water transport. Igarka Airport has a modern infrastructure and accepts all major aircraft and helicopter types. Flights are performed to Krasnoyarsk three times a week. Water transport connects Igarka with Dudinka and Norilsk (including Alykel Airport) to the north, and Krasnoyarsk to the south, from early June to early October twice a week. Helicopter lease is available.

Photo: Leonid Reznikov

Contact Details

Nikita Tananaev (Station manager)
E-mail: nikita.tananaev(at)gmail.com
Tel.: +7 923 247 34 87 (cell)

Postal address:
Bldg. 8-A, 1-st District, Igarka,
Krasnoyarsk region,
Russia, 663200

Tel./fax: +7 39172 2 14 26
E-mail station: igl(at)igarka.net

Photo by Colleague at Halle-Wittenberg University
Photo: Leonid Reznikov
Photo: Leonid Reznikov
Photo: Leonid Reznikov