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In the eye of Quebec | TurnedNews.com.ca

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The Manicouagan Project is an initiative of scientists and artists wishing to rediscover the eye of Quebec. In September 2021, five adventurers from the project traveled to the heart of the region.

A week of rowing and hiking allowed them to explore unknown landscapes. They reached the top of Mount Babel, the highest point of the astrobleme. The team thus collected a gold mine of unpublished data.

Whether it was drone, bathymetric sonar or LiDAR data, we collected information that did not exist in these places.says geomatician Erwan Gavelle, scientific coordinator of the expedition.

Canoeists on the shore.

The Manicouagan Project expedition to Mount Babel, just before its departure

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Manicouagan Project

The Manicouagan astrobleme is not a simple crater. The impact of the meteorite formed a hole on the ground, but the area in the middle of this crater was raised. The same phenomenon is observed on a smaller scale when a drop of water falls into a puddle.

In the particular relief of the eye of Quebec, a remarkable ecosystem has developed. The meteorite impact created a very steep Mount Babel. The vegetation then varies dazzlingly.

We went from a black spruce spruce stand to a balsam fir spruce stand, then to completely tundric vegetation in a very short distance. It was truly a unique place. »

A quote from Erwan Gavelle, geomatician

The data collected will make it possible to know everything about these forests.

The big advantage of taking geospatial data is being able to generate a digital twin. It is a virtual representation of reality. From there, we can, for example, generate climate change scenarios on the territory and simulate the impacts that this can have. »

A quote from Erwan Gavelle, geomatician
A belt of water around the mainland.

The impact crater nicknamed the eye of Quebec seen from space.

Photo: NASA

In the depths of the astrobleme

Part of the vegetation of the Eye of Quebec was, however, unreachable by explorers. The construction of the Daniel-Johnson hydroelectric dam in the 1960s raised the water level in the astrobleme. The Manicouagan reservoir then formed. It submerged vast forests on Innu ancestral territories.

What happened to these landscapes? Diver Nathalie Lasselin joined the Manicouagan Project to get to the bottom of it.

At the bottom of the tank, she took exclusive footage. In front of her, the trees drowned for 60 years still stood very straight. You really feel like you’re in the boreal forest as you know it on the surface, just underwatershe says.

Waterlogged branches bent upwards. In the absence of air, however, the trees did not rot.

There was an Innu guide who was with us outside the water. When he saw the images of the submerged forest, he couldn’t believe it. For him, it was a bit like souvenir photos. »

A quote from Nathalie Lasselin, underwater explorer and filmmaker
A tree and its branches.

Buried by the waters of the Manicouagan Reservoir, the trees stand tall.

Photo: Nathalie Lasselin, underwater explorer and filmmaker

New looks

The Manicouagan Project is far from over. Partner researchers from the universities of Montreal and Sherbrooke are discovering this rich ecosystem that they have not finished studying.

These data allow us to better know the territory and, when we know it better, we are able to understand that these forests are incredible and that it is important to keep them as they are. »

A quote from Erwan Gavelle, geomatician

The project will not only be used for science. Its instigator, the Frenchman Paul Duncombe, is an artist.

Scientists do not have the tools, nor the means, nor the time to promote all their research. So what we are proposing is to use data collection 100% from basic research to public dissemination. »

A quote from Paul Duncombe, artist

From the knowledge acquired on the astrobleme, Paul Duncombe will create art and science exhibitions. A documentary and books are also in preparation. It will soon be up to these works to make us travel in the eye of Quebec.

Note: Mount Babel is located in an ecological reserve, a territory that is not accessible to the public, except with an authorization for the realization of a scientific research or educational activity under the Law on the conservation of natural heritage.

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