Related Projects

Cold Regions Engineering and Glacial /
Periglacial Assessments


Nanisivik Mine Reclamation


Highway 3 Test Sections

Cold regions and permafrost engineering are specialized aspects of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering that focus on the unique conditions encountered in cold climates, including ground ice characterization, geothermal evaluations, and creep deformations.  These have been core BGC competencies since our inception, as one of BGC’s founders was part of the permafrost engineering expertise developed at the University of Alberta in the 1970’s.  In addition to services related to this expertise, BGC also provides specialist services in the areas of glacial and periglacial environment assessments.

BGC has become a world leader in cold climate services, as we have undertaken civil, mining and pipeline projects at high latitude sites across all three northern territories in Canada, as well as in Alaska, Russia, Greenland and high elevation sites in Central Asia and the South American Andes.

  • Glaciology/Periglacial Assessments

    As industrial development continues to expand in cold regions, there is growing concern related to the availability of water resources and potential environmental impacts that may exist in glacial, periglacial and permafrost environments.  Understanding glaciers and permafrost is crucial for the development of project plans, impact assessments and engineering design for projects located in these cold environments.  BGC is at the forefront of high elevation glaciology and periglacial assessments and mountain permafrost studies. We specialize in environmental assessments, particularly their interaction with engineering design aspects and their relation to geohazards and hydrological impacts.

    BGC offers a variety of engineering and environmental services for glaciological and permafrost studies, including:

    Characterizations of ground ice and thermal regimes

    • Glacial, periglacial and permafrost baseline studies
    • Development of regional, probabilistic permafrost distribution models
    • Hydrological assessments in periglacial and permafrost regimes
    • Design and implementation of glacial and periglacial monitoring and management programs
    • Evaluation of natural and anthropogenic impacts on the glacial and periglacial environment
    • Geothermal modelling to assess direct and indirect environmental impacts
    • Assessment of geohazards related to the glacial and periglacial environments
    • Expert review of baseline and technical studies and engineering designs
    • Strategic input and review support for corporate and legal teams regarding these specialized environments
    • Providing technical training and outreach to other designers, corporations, regulators and important stakeholders regarding glacial, periglacial and permafrost environments.

    BGC’s core competencies of cold regions and permafrost engineering support all of these services, providing our clients with appropriate designs that can be properly constructed and operated in challenging cold climate environments.


  • Cold Regions and Permafrost Engineering

    Cold regions and permafrost engineering are, by nature, focused on the geothermal considerations and proper characterization of permafrost, including aspects of both the geothermal regime and ground ice content.  This type of engineering requires very specialized training and experience in the investigation, design (including thermal) and construction of facilities and structures in complex ground conditions.  BGC’s cold regions and permafrost engineering services include:

    • Terrain assessment including delineation of organic/muskeg soils and ground ice and permafrost features (e.g. solifluction)
    • Granular resource assessments, including identification of ground ice potential
    • Specialized site investigation techniques for permafrost soils and rock, including core drilling with CRREL barrels or diamond drilling with chilled brine drilling fluid, and the use of geophysics for delineation of areas with high ground ice content
    • Geothermal modeling for mapping the distribution of probable permafrost and ground ice
    • Routing assessments for linear infrastructure, including roads and pipelines, across permafrost terrain
    • Installation and monitoring of shallow and deep thermistors for the interpretation of geothermal regimes
    • Geothermal design of artificial ground freezing systems, including thermosyphons
    • Talik assessments, including geothermal modelling
    • Specialized laboratory testing of permafrost materials and assessment of frost heave
    • Geothermal modelling and assessments related to design and construction impacts
    • Design of foundations, earthworks, slopes, roads, dams, waste rock and tailings storage facilities, and pipelines on permafrost soils and bedrock
    • Specialized hydrological and hydrotechnical designs for cold regions
    • Ice mechanics and engineering
    • Snow avalanche assessments
    • Assessment of climate change relative to design criteria for various structures
    • Construction monitoring of foundations, earthworks and structures located on permafrost
    • Mine closure and soil cover design for mine waste facilities located on permafrost.



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