- Mar 2017
Industry blazed a trail, rather physically, across the North. Big oil companies came in, ran tests, drilled wherever they pleased, and left scars on the fragile landscape. Before they could drill though, they had to find out where the oil was and to do so, seismic crews would do a survey of the area using what is called the single line method. “This method required the use of several tracked vehicles in a caravan, setting off blasts and collecting the data from them, and gashing vast stretches of the Arctic landscape” (114). These trails are what Berger is referring to and they are very much still visible today, decades after being created. The seismic testing left an impact on the physical substrate and the vegetation growing on it. The trails “are physical legacies of the ways multinational oil companies, governmental policies, and geological science combined to enroll Arctic nature into global energy economies. To those who know their full history, though, they are also a reminder of how ecological disturbance became a focal point for scientific and Inuit activism in the 1960s and 1970s” (115). As Berger goes on to say, the land itself could be, and was, taken from the native people and they are reminded every day of that when they see these trails.
Annotation drawn from Stuhl, Andrew. Unfreezing the Arctic: Science, Colonialism, and the Transformation of Inuit Lands. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016. For aerial images and more information on seismic trails visit: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/arctic/seismic.html