Taconite Inlet Project

Stratification patterns in Taconite Inlet, Ellesmere Island, N.W.T.

Stuart D. Ludlam

Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA 01003


The middle arm of Taconite Inlet shows many features in common with high-Arctic fjords and coastal meromictic lakes. The surface mixed layer is fresh, and a relatively constant 5.5 m deep, indicating a layer of ice of approximately the same thickness blocks communication with the Arctic Ocean. Below the primary halocline to a depth of 85 m, at least partial communication with the Arctic Ocean exists as indicated by the oxygen, salinity and thermal structures. A sill is probably found between 40 and 85 m depth, reducing circulation below it and contributing to the oxycline.

For a long but undetermined period prior to the separation of lakes C1, and C2 from the middle arm of Taconite Inlet, the surface water of the inlet was probably strongly brackish to marine suggesting that the entrance to Taconite Inlet was not blocked by an ice shelf at the time of separation. The deep water of these future lakes probably became isolated from the general estuarine circulation and began to develop some of their present limnological features prior to actual separation of the surface waters of the lakes from the inlet.

Taconite Inlet Project Homepage