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North America Natural Wonders
Ellesmere Island
Mackenzie Delta
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Gulf of St. Lawrence
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Mackenzie River Delta
Taiga (boreal forest) and wetlands, Mackenzie River delta, Inuvik, Yukon, Can.
Northwest Territories, Canada
Earth's Natural Wonders in North America
Length of Mackenzie River-1,100 miles (1,800 km)
Length of Mackenzie Delta-131 miles (210 km)
Depth of Great Slave Lake-2,015 feet (614 m)
 
Mackenzie River Delta [1]

 

 

 

Tugboat on the Mackenzie River in the delta region near Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada.
The Mackenzie River flows into the Beafort Sea across a delta front which is about 50 miles (80 km) wide. During the dark, cold days of winter it is hard to see that a delta exists at all. The river is frozen and blends in with the flat coastal plain. But by springtime the ice has melted, revealing a fan shaped network of rivers, streams, lakes, and islands. The layout is never the same, the sand and mud change the course of the channels, and building or eroding islands. The most recognizable features are the conical mounds, known as pingos. There are over a thousand of these dotted around the delta, the largest concentration in the world. At the center of each is a block of solid ice that pushes up the soil into a hillock.[2]
Mackenzie River Delta[1]



The Mackenzie River delta begins at Point Separation. The mean annual discharge of Mackenzie water into the delta, measured at the confluence of the Arctic Red River, is 340,000 cubic feet per second, increasing to an average of 540,000 cubic feet per second in summer. From the south the 425-mile Peel River is the last major tributary of the Mackenzie, although it actually flows into the Mackenzie delta to the west of Point Separation. The delta covers about 4,700 square miles and is a maze of branching, intertwining channels, numerous cutoff lakes, and circular ponds. These lakes are an excellent habitat for muskrat, and the trapping of these animals became the main source of income for the Indian and Eskimo inhabitants of the delta in the period 1920–60.

The perpetually frozen subsurface known as permafrost lies a few feet beneath the surface of the islands in the delta and exists discontinuously beneath the entire Mackenzie Lowlands north of Great Slave Lake. Depending on the type of vegetation cover, the top few inches to several feet of ground above the permafrost thaws during the summer months. Northern construction of airfields, roads, and pipelines has to be adapted to these permafrost conditions; houses and other buildings are usually placed on wooden piles that are sunk and frozen into the permafrost for stability. One of the distinctive features of the town of Inuvik is a utilidor, a linear boxlike metal container raised slightly above the surface of the ground, in which the separate sewer, water, and heating pipes are placed. Mackenzie River water-transport routes terminate at Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic coast northeast of the delta; there cargo is transferred to other vessels of greater draft, which serve the small settlements, radar stations, and oil-exploration sites along the western Arctic coast.

The Mackenzie Delta is a vast fan of low-lying alluvial islands, covered with black spruce, thinning northward. These trees are large enough to be used for construction of log buildings and are widely used as fuel. The delta is a maze of channels, cutoff lakes and circular ponds, which are home to a large muskrat population. The delta is 80 km across, bordered by the Richardson Mountains in the west and the Caribou Hills in the east. Below Point Separation the river splits into 3 main, navigable channels: East Channel, which flows past Inovik on the easterly edge of the delta; Peel Channel in the west, which flows past Aklavik; and Middle Channel, which carries the main outflow into the Beaufort Sea. Tuktoyaktuk, northeast of the delta, is the transfer point for river and ocean cargo; its harbour is open from July to late September. [1]

You Tube video

We go for a flightseeing tour with Ishmael Alunik over the MacKenzie Delta and the Richardson Mountains.

 

lizajanejoeclark
February 08, 2009

 

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References
 
1. MLA Style: "Mackenzie River." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Deluxe Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
2. 1,001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die 2005-p. 25- Michael Bright-retrieved 6/22/2009
 
 
 

 

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