EGU24-15053, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Geologic exploration activities increase methane emissions from boreal peatlands.

Percy Korsah1, Maria Strack1, Scott Davidson2, and Bin Xu3
Percy Korsah et al.
  • 1University of Waterloo, Geography, Canada (
  • 2School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA
  • 3Boreal Research Institute, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Peace River, Alberta, Canada

In recent years the preservation and restoration of peatlands has been pushed to the forefront of climate change mitigation plans. Unfortunately, boreal peatlands in Canada are threatened by extensive industrial exploration and extraction of natural resources. Many of these anthropogenic disturbances include linear pathways for geologic exploration of petroleum and mineral resources, also known as seismic lines. Apart from reported changes in peatland micro-topography and the lack of tree re-establishment, seismic lines crossing peatlands impact ecohydrological conditions leading to alterations in carbon (C) cycling. However, few studies have quantified the extent of these changes, resulting in a lack of reporting of these impacts in estimates of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.


This study took place in northern Alberta (Canada), across wooded bogs and a wooded fen. The primary objective was to evaluate the impact of seismic lines on CH4 and CO2 fluxes in the field and under laboratory conditions. CH4 fluxes and the net ecosystem exchange of CO2 (NEE) was measured over two growing seasons from 48 paired plots across the bogs and fen using the closed chamber technique, while 144 incubation jars with replicate samples were deployed in the lab. Corresponding data on environmental variables including peat temperature, vegetation cover, biomass and water table depth were recorded as well.


Seismic lines crossing peatlands significantly increased CH4 emissions, almost doubling in fens (176%) and tripling in bogs (261–308%) compared to their surrounding peatland areas. This was driven by warmer and wetter conditions on the line as well as a vegetation shift to more productive species. These results are essential for accurate greenhouse gas reporting as well as restoration planning and design.

How to cite: Korsah, P., Strack, M., Davidson, S., and Xu, B.: Geologic exploration activities increase methane emissions from boreal peatlands., EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-15053,, 2024.