Skip To Content

Field Lake


View Larger Map

Location

Lakeland County AB
Canada

A bioassessment of lakes in the Alberta oil sands region


Author(s): Parsons, B.

Year: 2008

Abstract:
The SOx and NOx emissions created by the oil sands industry in Alberta have the potential to cause acidification, eutrophication and increase trace metal accumulation in freshwaters in the area. Relationships between benthic macroinvertebrates (BMI) and water chemistry were calculated and a bioassessment was conducted to determine whether there was a difference in BMI assemblages between test and reference lakes. A Reference Condition Approach (RCA) was used to determine whether BMI in test lakes were different from reference lakes because an appropriate historical dataset was unavailable. Test lakes were located in an area where modeled S deposition was elevated, while reference lakes were selected in areas of "minimal disturbance" and maximized chemical and physical similarities with test lakes through an Assesssment by Nearest Neighbours Analysis (ANNA)-type grouping technique. Three analyses were used to robustly compare BMI composition at test and reference lakes, One Sample T- Tests, Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and a Test Site Analysis (TSA). A pilot study was also carried out to determine the mercury (Hg) concentrations in Amphipoda and Chironomidae and to distinguish whether Hg concentrations were influenced by distance to Hg emissions in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR). A Redundancy Analysis (RDA) showed that BMI communities were strongly affected by pH and DOC. Hyalellidae and Gammaridae were found in lakes with high pH values while Chironomidae and Oligochaete were found in lakes with low pH values. Dysticidae, Leptophlebidae, Corixidae, Sphaeriidae and Leptoceridae were more common in lakes with low DOC concentrations. Significant differences between BMI assemblages at test and reference lakes were identified by the One Sample T-Tests and MANOVA, while TSA identified potential differences in composition at 3 of the 5 test lakes according to a more lenient and reportedly, more ecologically meaningful approach. The differences in substrate and vegetation between test and reference lakes was likely more important in the causation of these differences than atmospheric deposition. Mercury concentrations in BMI were relatively high; accumulation was related to lake pH but not distance to a major Hg emission source. Chemically, the test lakes do not presently appear impacted from atmospheric pollution and because of the study design and the variable environment the differences in BMI cannot be attributed to SO* and NO* emissions. Nonetheless, appropriate field methods, analytical techniques and a dataset were developed so that future bioassessments can evaluate the effects of the growing oil sands industry more effectively than was previously possible.

A description of the reproductive biology of the fishing spider Dolomedes triton (Walck.) (Araneae: Pisauridae) in central Alberta


Author(s): Wojcicki, J. P.

Year: 1992

Abstract:
Field and laboratory observations were used to study the reproductive behaviours of the fishing spider Dolomedes triton. Courtship involved 'tapping' and 'jerking'. Males performed a ritualized 'wrapping' behaviour and 'fast-tapping'. During copulation, males inserted a single palp using the tibial apophysis to open the epigynum and guide the embolus. Males were capable of multiple matings, but females rarely mated more than once. Females rarely ate their mates, but after mating, became voracious feeders, attacking subsequent courting males. The reproductive output of females is affected by female size and food availability, particularly for larger females. Ten of eleven starved females failed to produce eggs. Mean egg weight and time to develop the first egg sac were not affected by food level or female size. It appears that smaller females may be at a selective advantage on ponds where food is limited, while larger females do best where food availability is high.

A preliminary evaluation of native psammophilous plants for revegetating oil sand tailings at Syncrude Canada (Fort McMurray Alberta)


Year: 1997

Abstract:
Native plants that naturally establish and thrive in sand (particularly on active dunes) are adapted to dry, nutrient deficient habitats and have evolved a tolerance to burial and exposure. In 1995, Wild Rose Consulting, Inc. and Syncrude Canada initiated a preliminary study to evaluate psammophilous plants (native to the local boreal ecoregion) for establishment and growth on oil sand tailings near Fort McMurray. Alberta. Seeds and roots of Astragalus aboriginum, Carex siccata, Deschampsia mackenzieana, Elymus mollis, Hierochloe odorata, Hudsonia tomentosa, Salix brachycarpa, and Stellaria arenicola were collected from three active dune sites in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan (Grande Prairie, Lesser Slave Lake, and Lake Athabasca). A preliminary survey of mycorrhizal symbionts was undertaken. Germination was tested after seeds were dried and cleaned. Species with adequate germination were tested for growth in tailing sands under controlled conditions. Astragalus aboriginum, Deschampsia mackenzieana, Salix brachycarpa, and Stellaria arenicola grew well in tailing sands in the greenhouse and were placed in field plots in 1996 (transplanted and seeded). Average survival of transplants in field plots was 80% or greater after two months in the first year. Deschampsia mackenzieana and Astragalus aboriginum seedlings were also emerging. Plants were divided into three groups based on their mycorrhizal symbionts: Elymus mollis, Deschampsia mackenzieana, and Hierochloe odorata formed vesicular-arbuscular mychorrizas, Hudsonia tomentosa and Salix brachycarpa were ectomycorrhizal, and Stellaria arenicola and Carex siccata lacked recognizable mycorrhizae.

A review of the baseline data relevant to the documentation and evaluation of the impacts of oil sands developments on black bear in the AOSERP study area


Year: 1978

Abstract:
Three of the tenets upon which the Canada-Alberta agreement for the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) is founded are: 1. Canada and Alberta recognize the necessity of improving the scientific understanding of the effects of the oil sands development on the human and natural environment of the Athabasca Oil Sands area. 2. The results of an intensive study of the area will be useful in predicting the effects of any proposed development as a basis for considering future proposals. 3. The results of the study program will be utilized by Alberta in the approval process for future developments and in the environmental design of any project which might be implemented. It is clear, therefore, that AOSERP was established with at least two major goals in mind: 1. To conduct research which will be useful in predicting the environmental effects of oil sands development, and 2. To conduct research which will provide an understanding of the environmental effects of development such that this knowledge may be used in the environmental design of future developments. Development of the Athabasca Oil Sands will affect the black bear population to varying degrees through alteration of habitat, disturbance factors, and increased exploitation. Black bear research in the AOSERP. study area (Figure 1) has not been extensive. One field study doOll1lented radio locations of four cubless females in the Fort Hills area (Fuller ru1d Keith in prep.). Young (1978) categorized habitat in all townships within the AOSERP study area from forest cover series maps (1:126,720 scale) and calculated black bear densities. This was a comparative study based on known densities in similar habitats near Cold Lake, Alberta. In addition, black bear research near Cold Lake (approximately 144 km south of the AOSERP study area) was initiated by Alberta Recreation, Parks and wildlife in 1968 and continued by the University of Wisconsin with financial support from AOSERP. Kemp (1972, 1976) and Ruff (1973) produced reports based on this work; however, a good deal of information is, as yet, unavailable. The general objective of this study is to complete an analysis of the applied research necessary to evaluate the responses of black bears to oil sands development. The objective of this report is to provide a review of the available baseline data which are relevant to the documentation and evaluation of the impacts on black bear which would result from oil sands development in the Athabasca Oil Sands area. This review forms the basis of evaluation of the state of baseline knowledge of black bears in the AOSERP study area and a statement of the research which should be completed in order to provide the data; this analysis has been submitted as a separate volume.

A statistically derived forecast scheme for winds and temperatures in the Athabasca tar sands area


Author(s): Hansen, M. C., & Leahey D. M.

Year: 1982

Abstract:
Syncrude Canada Ltd. operates an oil sands extraction plant in the Athabasca Tar Sands region of northeastern Alberta. Although this facility is designed to maintain resulting ground level air quality within the objectives of Alberta Environment, exceedances of these objectives may occur in extreme meteorological conditions. If these conditions were to be predicted in advance, then plant emissions could be adjusted in order to maintain ground level air quality at a desirable level. The purpose of this study is to develop a forecast scheme, based on analysis of historical, site specific data, which will allow prediction eight hours in advance of real time of those parameters which are required to predict ground level air quality. Specifically, these predictands are: wind speed and direction at stack and plume heights, vertical temperature gradient at stack height, mixing height and horizontal fluctuations of wind direction. Development of the forecast scheme for predictands relating to wind and temperature employed multiple linear regression analyses. Historical data for these parameters were obtained from analysis of 2 399 pibal observations and 2 289 minisonde observations made near the Syncrude plant site over the years 1975 to 1979 inclusive. Concurrent data for the predictors used in the regression equations were obtained from the following national, regional and local sources: the 850 mb pressure level wind field prepared by the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC), radiosonde temperature profiles obtained at Fort Smith and Stony Plain, upper air wind profiles and hourly surface records from the Fort McMurray airport, winds and the temperatures from the Tall Tower, and finally, surface winds from the towers at Stony Mountain and Mildred Lake.

A study to evaluate the performance of reclamation soil covers placed over an oil sands fluid coke deposit


Author(s): Fenske, D.

Year: 2012

Abstract:
Coke, a by-product of petroleum extraction from oil sands, is considered a potential energy source and must be stored within the reclaimed landscape in a manner that allows it to be recovered in the future. Syncrude Canada constructed two instrumented watersheds at the Mildred Lake Settling Basin (tailings management facility) to study the effects of coke in the environment. The watersheds consisted of a “shallow” and a “deep” cover system with nominal thicknesses of 35cm and 100cm, overlying an approximate 5 m thick coke deposit. The two reclamation soil covers were constructed using peat-mineral mix placed over secondary (glacial till). The global objective of this research program was to evaluate the preliminary performance for each of the soil covers with respect to the available water holding capacity (AWHC). The specific objectives were to: a) install additional instrumentation to supplement the existing instrumented watersheds; b) characterize the properties of the covers on each watershed; and c) develop a preliminary, one-dimensional water balance for each watershed. Existing instrumentation on each cover (installed by others) included: a meteorological station; automated soil stations to monitor suction, water content and temperature; and, lysimeters to collect net percolation. Additional instrumentation was installed during this research program to track vertical and horizontal variations in soil conditions and included: access tubes for monitoring water content; temperature sensors; gas sampling points; and, standpipe piezometers to determine depth to the water table. The instrumentation generally performed well, with the exception of the lysimeters which did not appear to measure net percolation accurately. Through the measurement of soil parameters, interpretation of field monitoring data and laboratory testing, the covers were characterized for their relative ability to store water for plant growth. A water balance was determined for each watershed. Evaluation of the covers indicated that neither the deep nor the shallow covers were successful at storing sufficient water necessary for plant growth under dry conditions. However, the deep cover performed better than the shallow cover based on the overall cover performance, likely due to its higher AWHC.

Acute lethality of mine depressurization water to trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus) and rainbow trout (Salmo Gaidneri). Vol II. Backup data


Author(s): Lake, W., & Rogers W.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
Volume 2 In order to conduct oil sands mining operations in the surface mining region of the Athabasca oil sands deposits, most regions require depressurization of the basal sandstone formations. The groundwater produced by depressurization operations is of poor enough quality to be toxic to fish. The purpose of this project is to provide information regarding the acute lethality of oil sands mining and extraction plant wastewaters to fish. Specific objectives were to provide toxicity information on a specific wastewater using Athabasca River water as the diluent and to compare the value of field toxicity studies and the predictive accuracy of laboratory bioassays using treated waters rather than natural waters.

Acute lethality of mine depressurization water to trout-perch (Percopsis omiscomaycus) and rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri): Volume II


Author(s): Lake, W., & Rogers W.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
Volume 2 In order to conduct oil sands mining operations in the surface mining region of the Athabasca oil sands deposits, most regions require depressurization of the basal sandstone formations. The groundwater produced by depressurization operations is of poor enough quality to be toxic to fish. The purpose of this project is to provide information regarding the acute lethality of oil sands mining and extraction plant wastewaters to fish. Specific objectives were to provide toxicity information on a specific wastewater using Athabasca River water as the diluent and to compare the value of field toxicity studies and the predictive accuracy of laboratory bioassays using treated waters rather than natural waters.

An anthropological survey of communities in the Mackenzie-Slave Lake region of Canada


Author(s): Cohen, R.

Year: 1962

Abstract:
Field work in summer of 1960 at Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Fort Norman, Fort Good Hope and Fort McPherson. Centres of Yellowknife, Hay River, Aklavik and Inuvik are described briefly.

An assessment of non-conventional drinking water in the Peace, Athabasca and Slave River basins


Year: 1997

Abstract:
It is estimated that approximately 25 % of the residents of the Northern River Basins Study area do not receive their drinking water from conventional drinking water treatment facilities. Therefore, these people rely on alternative sources for their drinking water supply. This report assesses the utilization and quality of the different non-conventional sources of drinking water that are used by people that do not consume conventionally treated water. Some of the non-conventional drinking water supplies utilized in the NRBS area include: (1) self-hauled treated water; (2) untreated surface water; (3) dugout water; (4) groundwater; (5) environmental sources of water such as snow, rain, and birch tree water; (6) bottled water; and (7) water treated by a variety of point-of-use technologies. There were four main research components in the assessment of these non- conventional drinking water supplies. First, the results of an in-depth review of the literature available on non-conventional drinking water sources, drinking water quality and the correlation of drinking water and health is presented in the first part ofthis report. Although the literature was limited on the actual consumption and quality of most of the non-conventional sources of drinking water consumed in the study area, substantial information exists on conventional drinking water quality as well as considerable information on several point-of-use treatment technologies. Essentially, the best type of point-of-use treatment depends on the raw water source. Perhaps the best point-of-use treatment method to use on water o f unknown quality is to boil it. The recommended boiling time in the literature varies considerably from simply heating the water to 50°C to vigorous boiling for 15 minutes. However, the majority of the authors cited a full boil for 1 minute as being sufficient to inactivate most pathogens. Besides boiling, there are numerous other point-of-use treatment technologies that employ disinfection (ultraviolet disinfection, ozonation, chlorination, iodination) and mechanical particle removal processes (such as sedimentation and filtration). The best available technology depends on the raw water source and likely incorporates more than one process to provide multiple barriers to ensure adequate drinking water quality. The second component of research regarding non-conventional drinking water in the Northern River Basins Study are was to visit selected NRBS communities and interview residents regarding their non-conventional drinking water practices. Remote areas around Fort Chipewyan, John D’Or Prairie, Fox Lake and Atikameg were visited and residents were asked about the sources and utilization on non-conventional drinking water supplies, as well as their overall drinking water quality concerns. It was through these informal interviews that most of the information was collected on the types of non-conventional drinking water used and how it was treated, if at all, prior to consumption. Many of the people interviewed discussed the deterioration of some of the surface water sources in the study area, but the majority of the concerns presented regarding drinking water quality in this study was in regards to the addition of chlorine in the conventional drinking water treatment process. Based on this, it was found that some people who do have conventionally treated water delivered to their home, collect a non-conventional supply of water for consumption such as from a nearby lake or river. This water has been called “special drinking water” by those consumers. It was also based on these findings that a series of population sub-groups that may be particularly pre-disposed to consuming non-conventional drinking water was postulated. First, those that live in remote areas not i serviced by conventional drinking water facilities are obvious consumers of non-conventional drinking water supplies. Second, some NRBS residents may be traditional consumers of alternative drinking water supplies. Many elderly residents may be included in this second group. Third, NRBS residents may consume non-conventional drinking water as a result of cultural activities such as living off the land expeditions or other wilderness activities. And the final group includes those individuals that consume non-conventional drinking water supplies for health reasons. This may include people that drink bottled water for its perceived health benefits as well as those that consume special drinking water to avoid the taste and smell o f chlorine in conventionally treated water. Third, during these field trips, samples of non-conventional drinking water were collected and these samples were analyzed for various physical, chemical and microbiological parameters. The non- conventional samples collected included untreated lake, river and creek water, spring water, groundwater well water, snow water, bottled water, and one sample of water treated with a point-of- use filter. Although the number of samples collected was limited and does not allow for absolute conclusions, several trends can be hypothesized. It was found that untreated surface water did not meet many of the physical, chemical and microbial guidelines in the GCDWQ. Although the groundwater samples collected met the microbiological limits in the GCDWQ, some physical and chemical parameters may be exceeded. The bottled water samples were found to have a very high background bacterial count and the point of use device tested was found to have actually contributed coliforms to the influent water supply. The fourth component in the assessment of non-conventional drinking water supplies in the Northern River Basins Study area was to pursue research on the effectiveness on some of the portable point-of- use drinking water treatment filters on the market. The reason for this was because there is a very limited body o f literature regarding these devices, and the claims made by the manufacturers suggest that these units are suitable to provide a safe supply of drinking water for wilderness campers and travelers. For the rigorous laboratory testing of these units, three filters were chosen to represent the larger market. The filters were chosen based on the type of filter media (carbon media, plastic media and silver impregnated ceramic media were selected), the price range (least expensive to most expensive were tested), and each unit was from a different manufacturer. The filters were subjected to an influent test water with a high turbidity, high bacterial count and a high particle count. It was found that only the silver impregnated ceramic filter was capable of reducing the turbidity, bacterial count and particle levels to below recommended levels for supplying a safe drinking water. However, further microbiological tests on this unit are required before it can be recommended for utilization in the study area.

Arsenic source and distribution in groundwater from the Cold Lake oil sands region, Alberta


Year: 2014

Abstract:
Elevated arsenic concentrations have been observed in shallow groundwater in the Cold Lake Oil Sand Region of Alberta. The geology of this area includes up to 200 m of unconsolidated glacial deposits, with six regional interglacial sand and gravel aquifers, underlain by marine shale. Arsenic concentrations in unconsolidated sediment samples ranged between 1 to 17 ppm. Mineralogical characterization of the sediment samples revealed the presence of fresh framboidal pyrite in the deeper unweathered sediments with variable As contents of up to 1800 ppm. In contrast, the weathered sediments did not contain framboidal pyrite, but exhibited spheroidal Fe-oxyhydroxide grains with elevated As concentrations, interpreted as pseudomorphs after pyrite. X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy (XANES) indicated that the weathered sediments are dominated by As5+ species having spectral features similar to those of goethite or ferrihydrite with adsorbed As, suggesting that Fe-oxyhydroxides are the dominant As carriers. XANES spectra collected from the unweathered sediment samples indicated the presence of a reduced As species characteristic of arsenopyrite and arsenian pyrite. A survey of over 800 water wells, isolated from industrial activity, were sampled for As and found that 50% of the wells contained As concentrations exceeding drinking water guidelines of 10 μg/L. Measurements of As speciation from 175 groundwater samples indicate that As(III) was the dominant species in 76% of the wells. Higher As concentrations in groundwater were associated with increasing depth and reducing conditions, circumneutral pH and lower concentrations of SO4. Speciation modelling showed that the majority of groundwater samples were undersaturated with respect to ferrihydrite, suggesting that reductive dissolution of Fe-oxyhydroxides, likely formed during glaciation, may be the source of some As in deeper groundwater whereas sulfide oxidation of pyrite during weathering is the source of As released to shallow aquifers. Understanding the distribution and form of As present naturally in the region’s aquifers is important for managing water resources to minimize the potential health risks of As exposure.

Assessing accumulation and biliary excretion of naphthenic acids in yellow perch exposed to oil sands-affected waters


Year: 2014

Abstract:
Naphthenic acids are known to be the most prevalent group of organic compounds in oil sands tailings-associated waters. Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) were exposed for four months to oil sands-influenced waters in two experimental systems located on an oil sands lease 30 km north of Fort McMurray Alberta: the Demonstration Pond, containing oil sands tailings capped with natural surface water, and the South Bison Pond, integrating lean oil sands. Yellow perch were also sampled from three lakes: Mildred Lake that receives water from the Athabasca River, Sucker Lake, at the edge of oil sands extraction activity, and Kimowin Lake, a distant reference site. Naphthenic acids were measured in perch muscle tissue using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Bile metabolites were measured by GC–MS techniques and by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence detection at phenanthrene wavelengths. A method was developed using liquid chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry (LC–HRMS) to evaluate naphthenic acids in bile. Tissue analysis did not show a pattern of naphthenic acids accumulation in muscle tissue consistent with known concentrations in exposed waters. Bile fluorescence and LC–HRMS methods were capable of statistically distinguishing samples originating from oil sands-influenced waters versus reference lakes. Although the GC–MS and HPLC fluorescence methods were correlated, there were no significant correlations of these methods and the LC–HRMS method. In yellow perch, naphthenic acids from oil sands sources do not concentrate in tissue at a measurable amount and are excreted through a biliary route. LC–HRMS was shown to be a highly sensitive, selective and promising technique as an indicator of exposure of biota to oil sands-derived naphthenic acids.

Assessing hydrological processes controlling the water balance of lakes in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, Alberta, Canada using water isotope tracers


Author(s): Matthew, F.

Year: 2007

Abstract:
One of the world's largest freshwater deltas (∼4000 km2 ), the Peace-Athabasca Delta (PAD), is located at the convergence of the Peace and Athabasca rivers and Lake Athabasca in northern Alberta, Canada. Since the early 1970s, there has been increasing concern regarding the ecological impacts on the PAD after flow regulation of the Peace River began in 1968, decreased discharge in the Peace and Athabasca rivers as a result of hydroclimatic changes in Western Canada, and increased Athabasca River water usage by oil sands development to the south. This thesis is part of an ongoing, multi-disciplinary project assessing current and past hydrological and ecological conditions in the PAD. Research conducted in this thesis aims to better understand the processes controlling water balance of lakes in the PAD using mainly stable water isotope data collected from lakes and their input sources. Isotope data are used to describe and quantify hydrological processes for individual lakes (seasonal and annual) and across the delta and are supported by other chemical and hydrometric data. An isotopic framework in δ18 O-δ2 H-space is developed for the PAD using evaporation-flux-weighted local climate data, and isotopic data collected from a reference basin, lakes throughout the PAD, and lake input sources (i.e., snowmelt, rainfall, and river water). The framework is comprised of two reference lines, the Local Meteoric Water Line, which is based on measured isotopic composition of precipitation, and the Local Evaporation Line, which is based on modelled isotopic composition of reference points. Evaporation pan data is used to assess short-term variations in key isotopic reference values, which are important for addressing short-term changes in the isotopic signature of shallow basins. This framework is used in subsequent chapters including assessment of seasonal and annual water balance of two hydrologically-contrasting shallow lakes, and to quantify the impacts of flood water and snowmelt on a set of 45 lakes in spring 2003. Five years of isotope data using time-series analysis and the isotopic framework suggested that a perched (isolated) lake and its catchment (forest and bedrock) in the northern, relict Peace sector captured sufficient rain, snow, and runoff to maintain a relatively stable water balance, and also that a low-lying lake in the southern, active Athabasca sector was regularly replenished with river water in both spring and summer. Snowmelt and rainfall were found to have diluted the perched basin by an average of 16% and 28% respectively, while spring and summer floods were found to almost completely flush the low-lying lake. Using the spring 2003 regional dataset, flooded lakes were separated from snowmelt-dominated lakes through use of suspended sediment concentrations, isotope data, and field observations. Application of an isotope mixing model translated δ18 O values into a range of replenishment amount by either river water or snowmelt, which compared well with hydrological conditions at the time of sampling and previously classified drainage types of the lakes. Spatial mapping of replenishment amounts illustrated flooding of much of the Athabasca sector due to ice-jams, except for two subregions isolated from flooding by artificial and natural northern diversion of flow from the Athabasca River. It is also shown that most of the relict landscape of the Peace sector was replenished by snowmelt except for a few low-lying lakes close to the Peace River and its tributaries. Overall, improved understanding of lake and regional hydrology in the PAD, especially the ability to quantify the affects of various lake inputs, will improve the ability to develop effective guidelines and management practices in the PAD as lakes respond to future changes in climate and river discharge.

Assessment of a wet landscape option for disposal of fine tails from oil sands processing


Author(s): MacKinnon, M., & Boerger H.

Year: 1991

Abstract:
In the extraction of bitumen from oil sand using the Clark Hot Water Process, large volumes of a poorly consolidating fine tails are produced. This material will remain in suspension indefinitely and poses a problem for ultimate reclamation. Syncrude is examining various options for the disposal of this material. As part of an integrated approach, one method under evaluation is the storage of the fine tails sludge in the mined out pits and capping it with a layer of clean water. The capping layer will effectively isolate the fine tails from mixing and will sustain a viable aquatic ecosystem. Laboratory and field experimental results are presented to show the feasibility of this wei landscape option as an environmentally acceptable reclamation method for fine tails. Chemical and biological developments of the capping water are summarized and projections for the evolution of the resulting water body are given.

Association of postfire peat accumulation and microtopography in boreal bogs


Year: 2005

Abstract:
Peatlands accumulate organic matter as peat because of disproportionate rates of production and decomposition. However, peat accumulation heterogeneity has not been well studied along the microtopographic gradient (hummocks vs. hollows), particularly with respect to fire. Fire affects peatland species composition by differentially removing vegetation and resetting succession, resulting in peat accumulation changes. We examined peat accumulation and microtopography in two historically burned bogs in Alberta, Canada. Measurements of current and historic microtopography were made, and cores were collected along the gradient to identify depth of peat accumulated since fire, as well as to assess properties of the accumulated peat. Current microtopography is significant and correlated with the immediate postfire surface relief. However, differences in the magnitude of variability between sites suggests that differential rates of growth between features are exacerbated between sites and reflected in bog microtopography. Rates of organic matter accumulation, ranging from 156 to 257 g.m^sup -2^.year^sup -1^, were elevated but comparable to published rates of recent accumulation. Organic matter content and accumulation rate were greater for hummocks than hollows at Athabasca bog, but the difference between features diminished at Sinkhole Lake, suggesting that the pattern and properties of peat accumulation and microtopography postfire may be attributable to differences in site conditions.

Background air and precipitation chemistry


Year: 1978

Abstract:
In March 1976, the first in a series of intensive field studies was carried out in the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program study area in northeastern Alberta to examine the fine structure of the atmosphere and dispersion characteristics under winter conditions. The study comprised several co-ordinated sets of measurements over a two week period. These included: minisonde flights, tethersonde vertical profiles, acoustic sounder and delta-T sonde profiles, correlation spectrometer and ground level sulphur dioxide measurements, plume rise photography and background air and precipitation chemistry. Plume dispersion measurements made by aircraft were co-ordinated with the study and are reported in a separate publication. All measurements, except those for background air chemistry, were made within 20 km of Mildred Lake taking in the present oil sands processing facility of Great Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. and the future production site of Syncrude Canada Ltd. The study was successful in identifying unique features of the winter environment of the area such as diurnal formation and breakup of inversion layers, the effects of the river valley on circulation patterns, plume characteristics, pollutant deposition patterns in the snowpack and background levels of gases and particulates.

Baseline inventory of aquatic macrophyte species distributions in the AOSERP study area


Year: 1980

Abstract:
This study evaluates the growth of aquatic macrophytes in selected lakes within the AOSERP study area in terms of lake type, and the feasibility of mapping such aquatic macrophytes using the existing FCIR photography of the study area. Field surveys were carried out during August 1978. Ten lakes or groups of lakes were examined in the field and the data utilized to establish three major classes of lakes within the study area: Class 1 (Eutrophic); Class 2 (Limited Growth); and Class 3 (0ligotrophic). Through examination of the 1 :60 000 scale FCIR photographs, a legend for mapping aquatic macrophytes was developed which divided aquatic macrophytes into their three major classes (emergent, floating, and submergent) and allowed for species identification where possible. A complete description of each vegetation type included in the legend is presented, as well as a key for photo interpretation. Examples of the mapping are included. The relationship between aquatic macrophyte growth and habitat factors as found in the AOSERP study area is outlined, as are some of the implications of aquatic macrophyte inventory for management and reclamation of such vegetation. Recommendations for further work state that mapping according to the developed legend should be carried out immediately, for inclusion on the vegetation overlay of the Ecological Habitat Maps. Finally, an annotated bibliography includes literature on the growth, species, and habitat of aquatic macrophytes in the AOSERP and similar study areas, as well as on the use of remote sensing for identification and mapping of aquatic vegetation.

Biology and relationships of Pterostichus adstrictus Eschscholtz and Pterostichus pensylvanicus Leconte (Coleoptera : Carabidae)


Author(s): Goulet, H.

Year: 1971

Abstract:
Masters thesis. A comparison of two structurally similar species of beetles in relation to their ecological, behavioural, and morphological characteristics. Most of the data was obtained from the George Lake field station near Edmonton, Alberta.

Carbon-13 fractionation in carbon dioxide emitting diurnally from soils and vegetation at ten sites on the North American continent


Author(s): Lancaster, J.

Year: 1990

Abstract:
A series of field experiments explore the characteristic fractionation of the $\sp{13}$C isotope by land plants on the North American continent, as seen in CO$\sb2$ emitting from plants and soils to the canopy layer during a diurnal cycle. CO$\sb2$ concentrations are reported for 495 discrete air samples taken within forests and over tundra at ten, rural sites ranging from 9$\sp\circ$N to 69$\sp\circ$N (Barro Colorado, Panama; Chamela, Mexico; Cuyamaca, CA; Yosemite, CA; Scotia Ridge, PA; Barnard, VT; Hamilton, MT; Rock Lake, Alberta; Bethel, AL; and Toolik, AL). $\delta\sp{13}$C, $\delta\sp{18}$O and N$\sb2$O concentration are reported for 236 samples of CO$\sb2$ extracted cryogenically from the air samples. The results show the intercepts, $\delta\sp{13}$C$\sb{\rm I}$, of least-squares fits to the isotopic and reciprocal concentration at each site to range progressively from $-$28% near the equator to $-$23% near the Artic Circle. The latitudinal trend toward greater fractionation within the closed, tropical canopy is consistent with previous hypotheses regarding cyclic enrichment and water-use-efficiency relations, but is inconsistent with the hypothesis that $\sp{13}$C enrichment simply follows greater insolation. The mean value found for $\delta\sp{13}$C$\sb{\rm I}$, $-$25% ($\pm$1.6%), is in close agreement with nominal values used in global computer modelling of the biosphere-atmosphere CO$\sb2$ flux. Variability in samples from soil enclosure experiments and between years at some sites suggests that multiple factors may cause spatial and temporal heterogeneity in the $\sp{13}$C fractionation of as much as 2% to 3%. Anomalous N$\sb2$O or $\delta\sp{18}$O values identify 90% of the $\delta\sp{13}$C data departing significantly ($>$2 sigma) from the least-squares fit for each site. N$\sb2$O concentrations range from 267 ppb to 3,882 ppb, while N$\sb2$O corrections to $\delta\sp{13}$C range from +0.06% to +1.95%. 20% of all samples require N$\sb2$O-based correction to the $\delta\sp{13}$C data that depart from the nominal +0.23% correction by more than 1%, suggesting that applying a constant correction for N$\sb2$O, or no correction at all may expose such assessments of characteristic isotopic composition in biospheric-atmosphere CO$\sb2$ exchange to an additional uncertainty exceeding 1%.

Chipewyan ecology: Group structure and caribou hunting system


Author(s): Irimoto, T.

Year: 1981

Abstract:
Detailed study of the Caribou-Eater Chipewyan in the Wollaston Lake region in northern Saskatchewan based on field research conducted July 1975 to October 1976.

Circulation of water and sediment in the Athabasca Delta area


Year: 1981

Abstract:
The objective of the study was to describe how water and sediment from the Athabasca River are distributed through the delta system and how they circulate and mix in Lake Athabasca and flow through to the Slave River, with a view to understanding the pathways ano destinations of contaminants that might reach the Athabasca River. Study components included literature reviews, remote sensing interpretations, field investigations and mathematical analyses. The project was viewed as a first stage study to sketch the essentials of the system and to outline needs and methodologies for a better definition.

Contaminants in environmental samples: Mercury in the Peace Athabasca and Slave River basins


Year: 1996

Abstract:
This report summarizes and describes environmental levels of mercury in water, sediment, invertebrates, and fish from the Athabasca, Peace, and Slave river basins. Data were obtained from existing provincial and federal databases, the Northern Rivers Basins Study, and from government and private sector reports and publications. Mercury has been measured in several hundred water samples from the Basins. Mercury was detected in only a few of these samples. However, appropriate field and laboratory protocols to sample mercury in water were not used in the past; thus most detections of this element in water may not be reliable. It is noteworthy however, that because of high detection limits (0.05 to 0.1 pg/kg) mercury was not detected in most municipal effluents, and only occasionally in industrial effluents. Mercury is ubiquitous to all soils and sediments of the earth, and it is not surprising that it was found in sediment samples from the Basins at levels that range from 27 to 123 pg/kg (dry weight). Levels of mercury found in sediments were well below the current draft interim sediment guideline for mercury that was developed to protect aquatic life. The guideline is 170 pg/kg mercury (dry weight). There was no obvious increase in mercury in sediments downstream of industrial effluents compared with sediment at upstream sites. Sediment cores from Lake Athabasca indicate that mercury levels have not increased over at the past 50 years or more, and they also suggest that the Athabasca River basin is the principal source of mercury to Lake Athabasca. Mercury was not detected (< 20 pg/kg) in nine invertebrate samples collected from the Athabasca River in the Hinton to Whitecourt reach (km 1244 to 1067). However, in 1983 in the reach from km 270 to 258 that spans the Suncor operation, mercury increased in aquatic invertebrates in the downstream direction, from 70 to 1400 pg/kg. This significant increase, and the unusually high level in aquatic invertebrates, suggests that the Suncor operation in the early 1980s was a significant source of mercury to the lower Athabasca River. However, mercury levels in a single sample of invertebrates from 1994 for this same reach suggests that the Suncor operation is no longer a major source of mercury. Mercury was detected in all fish of every species taken from all lakes and rivers. In general, mercury levels in the Basins were highest in predatory fish species such as pike, walleye, burbot, and bull trout and the maximum levels were found in large specimens of these species. For the Athabasca River basin, the decreasing order for concentration of mercury in fish was walleye > goldeye > northern pike > longnose sucker > mountain whitefish. Because of high levels of mercury, consumption guidelines have been established for walleye and pike from two lakes in the Athabasca River basin, and for walleye caught from the Athabasca River. Consumption guidelines are reported by Alberta Environmental Protection in their "Annual Guide To Sport Fishing". In the reach of the Athabasca River from the town of Athabasca(km700)to the southern boundary of Wood Buffalo National Park(km 127),25%of all walleye had mercury concentrations that exceeded the Health Canada limit of 500 pg/kg. Detailed studies are required to determine the relative contribution ofnatural and industrial sources to the mercury It is recommended that: 1. Mercury concentration in walleye from Lake Athabasca and at sites along the lower Athabasca River downstream from the town of Athabasca be measured at regular intervals, perhaps every two years. 2. A detailed study be conducted in the lower Athabasca River to evaluate and to identify mechanisms and pathways o f mercury uptake by aquatic biota. The tarsands, an organic rich substrate, forms a significant part of the banks of the Athabasca River and its tributaries in this reach. Tarsands may enhance mercury uptake into the food web. An evaluation of the contribution ofthe waste-water effluent from town ofFort McMurry and the contribution of the Suncor operation to mercury loading in the lower Athabasca River should be part of this study

Controls on the spatial distribution of soil moisture and solute transport in a sloping reclamation cover


Year: 2008

Abstract:
A detailed field study was conducted to map the spatial distribution of soil moisture and salt transport within a sloping clay-rich reclamation cover overlying a saline-sodic shale overburden landform. The soil moisture data suggest that: lower-slope positions are wetter in spring due to the down-slope movement of surface run-off; infiltration occurs via preferential flow paths while the ground is frozen; and, interflow occurs along the cover–shale surface when the ground thaws. Soil moisture conditions also remain wetter in lower-slope positions throughout the summer and fall. Salt transport from the shale into the overlying cover is affected predominantly by soil moisture conditions and lateral groundwater flux. Quasi one-dimensional modelling of in situ profiles of pore-water Na+ concentration demonstrate that: (i) increased soil moisture conditions in lower-slope positions accelerate salt transport into the cover through diffusion; (ii) snow melt infiltration water bypasses the soil matrix higher in the cover profile; (iii) drier conditions in the mid- and upper-slope positions limit salt transport through diffusion; (iv) advection accelerates upward salt transport in lower-slope positions; and, (v) interflow and (or) deep percolation are key mechanisms mitigating vertical salt movement in lower- and upper-slope positions.

Early successional wildlife monitoring on reclamation plots in the Athabasca oil sands region


Author(s): Hawkes, V. C.

Year: 2011

Abstract:
Assessing the effectiveness of reclamation efforts to create wildlife habitat in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region requires an assessment of wildlife use of reclaimed areas as well as the development of scientifically defensible and repeatable survey methods. The Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) is mandated to develop guidance documents for assessing reclamation effectiveness on oil sands leases. As part of a pilot study funded by CEMA to assess the use of early successional stands (i.e., those ranging in age from 4 to 17 years) by wildlife (songbirds, small mammals, and ungulates), a wildlife monitoring protocol was developed and field tested in 2010 and 2011. The purpose of this project was to (1) set standards upon which to base longer-term monitoring, and (2) identify wildlife groups that will indicate whether reclaimed ecosystems satisfy land use objectives, including the objective of returning wildlife to reclaimed habitats. The study achieved the following goals: 1) an assessment of the return and re-establishment of early successional wildlife to reclaimed terrestrial systems; 2) an assessment of the feasibility of the recommended protocols for monitoring wildlife on reclaimed terrestrial systems; 3) the development of recommendations for the wildlife appendix of the Guidelines for Reclamation to Forest Vegetation in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region for early successional wildlife monitoring based on the monitoring program results; and 4) the collection of monitoring data to assist in identifying and developing wildlife indicators for reclamation certification. Early indications suggest that the proposed methods are suitable for documenting wildlife use of reclaimed plots; however, the frequency and duration of monitoring needs to be increased to determine patterns of re-establishment and use by wildlife.

Effect of clearcutting on artificial egg predation in boreal mixedwood forests in north-central Alberta


Author(s): Cotterill, S. E.

Year: 1996

Abstract:
Effect of clearcutting on the rate of artificial egg predation and egg predators was examined in Alberta's boreal mixedwood ecoregion in 1993 and 1994. Control sites remained unfragmented for the two year study. Treatment sites were isolated by clearcutting following the 1993 field season. Plasticine eggs and nest cameras were used to identify predators; and corvids, potential egg predators, were censused. Effect of nest site and landscape attributes on the probability of egg predation was also examined. Clearcutting did not affect the rate of egg predation or corvid densities, nor did the rate of egg predation vary with distance into aspen forest from a clearcut edge. Predation levels increased significantly in 1994 in $\underline{both}$ continuous and fragmented sites. Deer Mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) were the primary predators of ground nests and shrub nests, respectively. Probability of egg predation by Deer Mice and Red Squirrels could not be accurately predicted based on nest site vegetation or landscape characteristics.

Effect of Field Lake outflow on water quality in Red Deer Brook


Author(s): Mitchell, P.

Year: 2000

Abstract:
Since 1983, treated sewage effluent from the Town of Lac La Biche has discharged to Field Lake, a small shallow eutrophic lake south of the town. The lake outflow, called Red Deer Brook, flows into Lac La Biche. In 1997, Alberta Environment recognized that there was little information on the water quality of Red Deer Brook, especially with respect to spawning of Northern Pike in spring. In 1998, Alberta Environment began a spring sampling program to answer some of the questions raised by department staff and officials of the Town of Lac La Biche. The main question was whether Red Deer Brook has been adversely affected by outflow from Field Lake. The focus of the study was on nutrients, ammonia-nitrogen and dissolved oxygen, all of which could directly or indirectly affect fish spawning in the lower portions of the creek.

Energy and water exchange from a saline-sodic overburden restoration cover Fort McMurray, Alberta


Author(s): Carey, S. K.

Year: 2006

Abstract:
The Canadian oil sand mining industry takes responsibility for restoring mining areas to an equivalent level that existed before mining occurred. During this process, the surface-vegetation-atmosphere continuum is dramatically altered, creating few similarities to the boreal forest that existed prior to mining. Using the eddy covariance method, a study of the integrated salt and water balance of a saline-sodic overburden pile at Syncrude Canada Ltd.'s Mildred Lake mine north of Fort McMurray, Alberta was undertaken in order to measure the surface energy balance for three summers (2003 - 2005) with different climatic and phenological conditions. The objective of this study was to document how evapotranspiration and energy partitioning varied inter-annually during the growing season atop the restoration cover and to relate the portioning of energy at the surface to environmental and physiological variables. The paper described the site and measurement specifics and also presented the results and discussion. Results were organized under the following topics: climate; soil moisture and suction; leaf area index and vegetation; surface energy balance; evapotranspiration; and controls on evapotranspiration. It was concluded that results from this study have important implications for recovery strategies, as the availability water for plant growth, the movement and migration of salts and percolating water for deep drainage all depend on accurate quantification of evapotranspiration. 9 refs., 1 tab

Establishment report on the Mildred Lake native and cultivated grass reclamation trial


Author(s): Tomm, H. O.

Year: 1982

Abstract:
The adaptability of native and cultivated grasses to oil sands disturbances is being studied in a field trial in northeastern Alberta. The native grasses originated from the mountains and foothills of the province. The trial was established on blended materials consisting of native sand, clayey overburden and peat. Nine native grasses and eight cultivated grass varieties were seeded in June of 1981. A description of the site, a summary of experimental procedures and first-year results are included in the report.

Evaluation of groundwater flow and salt transport within an undrained tailings sand dam


Author(s): Price, A. C. R.

Year: 2005

Abstract:
Groundwater flow and salt transport in an undrained tailings sand dam is investigated at Syncrude Canada's Mildred Lake Oil Sands mine, in northeast Alberta. Two dimensional groundwater flow and salt transport are characterized using field data from two detailed piezometer transects. Calibrated steady-state groundwater flow and transient salt transport models simulate existing and future flow systems and flushing of process water. Dyke topography creates nested flow patterns, which are modified in some cases by variations in hydraulic conductivity. Greater relief of the backward-sloped bench design compared with forward-sloped benches results in larger local flow systems, a deeper water table, flushing of process water and focused discharge. Under the existing flow conditions captured by the model, salts will flush in decades at the local scale (bench) and centuries at the intermediate scale (perimeter dyke). The future flow regime will depend strongly on recharge rates across the reclaimed dam.

Evaluation of groundwater flow and salt transport within an undrained tailings sand dam


Author(s): Price, A. C. R.

Year: 2005

Abstract:
Groundwater flow and salt transport in an undrained tailings sand dam is investigated at Syncrude Canada's Mildred Lake Oil Sands mine, in northeast Alberta. Two dimensional groundwater flow and salt transport are characterized using field data from two detailed piezometer transects. Calibrated steady-state groundwater flow and transient salt transport models simulate existing and future flow systems and flushing of process water. Dyke topography creates nested flow patterns, which are modified in some cases by variations in hydraulic conductivity. Greater relief of the backward-sloped bench design compared with forward-sloped benches results in larger local flow systems, a deeper water table, flushing of process water and focused discharge. Under the existing flow conditions captured by the model, salts will flush in decades at the local scale (bench) and centuries at the intermediate scale (perimeter dyke). The future flow regime will depend strongly on recharge rates across the reclaimed dam.

Evaluation of the capability of aggregated oil sands mine tailings: Biological indicators


Year: 2003

Abstract:
An experiment was initiated in 1997 in northeast Alberta at the Syncrude Canada Ltd. Mildred Lake site to field test an innovative technique for reclamation of oil sand mine tailings. This technique was used to create an aggregated soil material from oil sand tailings. A plant community was successfully established on the soil material created by this technique. However, whether the site would be capable of supporting a self-sustainable ecosystem for the long-term remained a challenging issue. We evaluated the capability of these aggregated oil sand tailings by using biological indicators of the abundance and diversity of soil microbial biomass. Soil respiration rates and soil microbial biomass measurements were used to assess the abundance and activities of soil microbial communities. The ability of soil microbial biomass to utilize a diverse range of carbon substrates was used to assess the diversity of soil microbial communities. Soil biological activity increased with increasing growth of plant biomass and over time. Increasing the amount of peat moss or muskeg incorporated into the soil during reclamation resulted in higher organic carbon and nitrogen content and caused an increase in abundance and diversity of soil microbial biomass. These results indicate that measurements of soil respiration and substrate utilization by soil microbial communities may be used as biological indicators for assessing the capability of reclaimed soils.

Evaluation of trees and shrubs for oil sands reclamation: Field trial results


Year: 1987

Abstract:
The Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) Subproject VE 7.1 was initiated to select suitable tree and shrub species for use in revegetating spoils and tailings resulting from oil sands mining operations in northeastern Alberta. As part of this program three field trials were established near the Mildred Lake field camp, approximately 38 km north of Fort McMurray, in 1980 and 1981. The purpose was to test one or more provenances (seed sources) of promising native and exotic woody species. The trial site was prepared to simulate an oil sands reclamation situation. Overburden and peat were hauled to the site from Syncrude Canada Ltd.’s mining lease and incorporated in native sand. The resulting reconstructed soil was alkaline (pH 7.5), non-saline, and low in available N, P, and K. No fertilizers were added. A fine-mesh fence was erected around the trial site to exclude small mammals. All species were outplanted as one- or two-year-old container stock. All seed used to rear the native species was collected from local populations in the oil sands region. In August 1986 the trials were assessed. Survival rates were high for most species. Girdling damage by small mammals was almost non-existent, probably because of the fine-mesh fencing. Populus Northwest and P. Tristis #1 were the tallest and fastest growing species. Among the native species, Pinus banksiana was the tallest and fastest growing. Several other species also performed well and may be suitable for oil sands reclamation: Caragana arborescens, Cornus stolonifera, Elaeagnus commutata, Empetrum nigrum, Picea glauca, Picea mariana, and Populus Brooks #6. Some species gave mediocre or inconsistent performances, including Betula glandulosa, Betula papyrifera, Populus Walker, and Vaccinium vitis-idaea. The remaining species were failures and may not be adapted to the test site environment: Acer negundo, Alnus tenuifolia/crispa, Elaeagnus angustifolia, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Lonicera tartarica, Populus tremuloides, Rosa woodsii, Salix acutifolia, Salix fragilis var. basfordiana, Salix pentandra, and Ulmus pumila. There were few significant differences among provenances for any of the native species. This suggests that genotypic differences were small among the populations tested.

Evolution of the hydraulic conductivity of reclamation covers over sodic/saline mining overburden


Year: 2011

Abstract:
The evolution of the field saturated hydraulic conductivity of four covers located on a reclaimed saline-sodic shale overburden from oil sands mining is presented. Three covers consisted of a surface layer of peat/glacial topsoil over a mineral, soil. and one cover was a single layer of mixed peat and mineral soil. Measurements of the field saturated hydraulic conductivity of the cover and shale materials were made with a Guelph permeameter between 2000 and 2004. The hydraulic conductivity of the cover materials in the multilayered covers increased by one to two orders of magnitude over the first few monitoring seasons. The hydraulic conductivity of the single-layer cover system, which was placed three years before the multilayered covers, marginally increased from 2000 to 2002 and then remained relatively unchanged. The hydraulic conductivity of the shale underlying all four covers increased approximately one order of magnitude. Soil temper- ature measurements indicated that one freeze/thaw cycle occurred each year within all cover soils and the surficial overburden. This suggests that freeze/thaw effects were the cause of the observed increases in hydraulic conductivity, as previously observed by other researchers working on compacted clays.