Project Overview

The Mackenzie Mountains EarthScope project is a 5-year National Science Foundation funded project aimed at exploring the origins of the Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The Mackenzie Mountains are one of a unique group of mountain ranges throughout the world formed great distances from tectonic plate boundaries.  Understanding these range’s origins is of great scientific interest as there is not currently a scientific consensus to explain this phenomenon.
The $1.1M project is being led by Geosciences Assistant Professor Derek Schutt and co-principal investigators Department Head and Professor Richard Aster and Professor Jeff Freymueller of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The 5-year project will explore the structure of the earth below the mountain range to identify the forces that uplifted the mountains as well as gauge seismic activity in the area. These data will be collected through the deployment of 40 broadband seismometers and 3 continuous GPS instruments, and augmented with campaign surveys at 25 additional sites along a nearly 1,000 km transect running through the heart of the mountain range.
The team will perform reconnaissance of the mountain range and place the GPS sites in the first field season of the project during the summer of 2015. Crews will return the following season to deploy the seismometers and perform maintenance on the GPS sites. Data collection from the array will take place during the third year and the area will be demobilized in year four. Data analysis will take place in the project’s final year. 
With partner, Joel Cubley of Yukon College, the project will engage undergraduate students from Yukon College, a 2-year college in Whitehorse, Yukon, to perform fieldwork and data collection. Students from the college will be extremely valuable to the effort due to their local knowledge of the area and experience working in the Territory’s challenging environment. In turn they will gain valuable experience and new insights into careers and research opportunities available in the field of geosciences.
The research team is also glad to collaborate with researchers in Canada and elsewhere to take maximal advantage of the special opportunity enabled by the presence of this temporary array.   Collaborators include scientists Juan Carlos Afonso, Pascal Audet, and Stéphane Mazzotti, and partner agencies include the Northwest Territory Geosciences Office.

If you have questions about the project please contact Derek Schutt.
(970) 491-5786
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