Devon Island

Last updated
Devon Island
Native name:
Truelove Lowlands Devon Island.jpg
Truelove Lowland, a polar oasis located in Devon Island
Devon Island, Canada.svg
Location Baffin Bay
Coordinates 75°15′N088°00′W / 75.250°N 88.000°W / 75.250; -88.000 (Devon Island) [1] Coordinates: 75°15′N088°00′W / 75.250°N 88.000°W / 75.250; -88.000 (Devon Island) [2]
Area55,247 km2 (21,331 sq mi)
Area rank 27th
Length524 km (325.6 mi)
Width155–476 km (96–296 mi)
Highest elevation1,920 m (6300 ft)
Highest point Devon Ice Cap
Territory Nunavut
Region Qikiqtaaluk

Devon Island [3] (Inuktitut : ᑕᓪᓗᕈᑎᑦ, Tallurutit) [4] is an island in Canada and the largest uninhabited island (no permanent residents) in the world. It is located in Baffin Bay, Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is one of the largest members of the Arctic Archipelago, the second-largest of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Canada's sixth-largest island, and the 27th-largest island in the world. It has an area of 55,247 km2 (21,331 sq mi) (slightly smaller than Croatia). The bedrock is Precambrian gneiss and Paleozoic siltstones and shales. [5] The highest point is the Devon Ice Cap at 1,920 m (6,300 ft) which is part of the Arctic Cordillera. Devon Island contains several small mountain ranges, such as the Treuter Mountains, Haddington Range and the Cunningham Mountains. The notable similarity of its surface to that of Mars has attracted interest from scientists.


History and settlement

Patterned ground permafrost pattern seen on Devon Island Patterned ground devon island.jpg
Patterned ground permafrost pattern seen on Devon Island

Robert Bylot and William Baffin were the first Europeans to sight Devon Island in 1616. [6] William Edward Parry charted its south coast in 1819–20, [7] and named it North Devon, after Devon in England, a name which was changed to Devon Island by the end of the 1800s. [5] In 1850, Edwin De Haven sailed up Wellington Channel and sighted the Grinnell Peninsula. [8]

An outpost was established at Dundas Harbour in 1924, and it was leased to Hudson's Bay Company nine years later. The collapse of fur prices led to the dispersal of 52 Baffin Island Inuit families on the island in 1934. It was considered a disaster due to wind conditions and the much colder climate, and the Inuit chose to leave in 1936. Dundas Harbour was populated again in the late 1940s, but it was closed again in 1951. Only the ruins of a few buildings remain today.


Topography of Devon Island Devon topo.png
Topography of Devon Island
Satellite photo montage of Devon Island and its neighbours Wff devon island.jpg
Satellite photo montage of Devon Island and its neighbours

Because of its relatively high elevation and its extreme northern latitude, Devon Island supports only a meagre population of muskox and small birds and mammals; the island does support hypolith communities. Animal life is concentrated in the Truelove Lowland area of the island, which has a favourable microclimate and supports relatively lush Arctic vegetation. Temperatures during the brief (40 to 55 days) growing season seldom exceed 10 °C (50 °F), and in winter can plunge to as low as −50 °C (−58 °F). With a polar desert ecology, Devon Island receives very little precipitation.

Cape Liddon is an Important Bird Area (IBA) notable for its black guillemot and northern fulmar populations. [9] Cape Vera, another IBA site, is also noted for its northern fulmar population. [10]

Devon Island is also notable for the presence of the Haughton impact crater, created some 39 million years ago when a meteorite about 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter crashed into what were then forests. The impact left a crater about 23 km (14 mi) in diameter, which was a lake for several million years.

Scientific research

Devon Island Research Station

The Devon Island Research Station was established in 1960 and it is maintained by the Arctic Institute of North America. It is located in Truelove Lowland, on the northeast coast of Devon Island ( 75°40′N84°35′W / 75.667°N 84.583°W / 75.667; -84.583 ). [11]

Flashline Mars

The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station project entered its third season in 2004. In July 2004, Devon Island became the temporary home for five scientists and two journalists, who were to use the Mars-like environment to simulate living and working on that planet. April 2007 through 21 August 2007 was the longest simulation period and included 20 scientific studies. [12]

The Haughton crater is now considered one of the world's best Mars analog sites. It is the summer home to NASA's complementary scientific program, the Haughton–Mars Project. HMP has conducted geological, hydrological, botanical, and microbiological studies in this harsh environment since 1997. [13] HMP-2008 was the twelfth field season at Devon Island. [14]

In 2007, fossils of the seal ancestor Puijila darwini were found on the island. [15]

On July 16, 2013, the Canadian Space Agency assigned Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen to a secondment with the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration of the University of Western Ontario at Haughton Crater in preparation for a potential future crewed exploration of Mars, the Moon or the asteroids. [16]

See also


  1. "Devon Island". Geographical Names Data Base . Natural Resources Canada.
  2. "Devon Island". Geographical Names Data Base . Natural Resources Canada.
  3. "Devon Island". Geographical Names Data Base . Natural Resources Canada . Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  4. Jerry Kobalenko. The Horizontal Everest: Extreme Journeys on Ellesmere Island. BPS Books, 2010
  5. 1 2 kuschk (3 May 2012). "Devon Island: The Largest Uninhabited Island on Earth". Basement Geographer. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  6. Markham, Clements (1881). The voyages of William Baffin, 1612-1622. London: Hakluyt Society. William Baffin.
  7. Parry, William Edward (1821). Journal of a voyage for the discovery of a North-West passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific: performed in the years 1819-20. London: John Murray. William Edward Parry 1819.
  8. Savours, Ann (1999). The Search for the North West Passage. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  9. "Cape Liddon". Archived from the original on 2011-06-12. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
  10. "Cape Vera". Archived from the original on 2011-06-12. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  11. "Truelove Lowland summary and pictures". Archived from the original on 2006-01-29. Retrieved 2006-05-23.
  12. Aggerholm, Barbara (2007-08-22). "Looks like Mars, feels like Mars". The Record. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  13. Desportes, C.; Rice, M.; Lee, P. (2007). "Periglacial polygon fields on Devon Island, High Arctic" (PDF). Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVIII. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  14. "Gearing up for the 12th Year of Research at Haughton Crater". Mars Institute. 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  15. Black, Richard (2009-04-22). "'Missing link' fossil seal walked". BBC Online . Retrieved 2010-11-13.
  16. "Training in Geology". 12 July 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2018.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Haughton impact crater</span>

Haughton impact crater is located on Devon Island, Nunavut in far Northern Canada. It is about 23 km (14 mi) in diameter and was formed 31-32 million years ago during the Early Oligocene. The impacting object is estimated to have been approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter. Devon Island itself is composed of Paleozoic shale and siltstone overlying gneissic bedrock. When the crater formed, the shale and siltstone were peeled back to expose the basement; material from as deep as 1,700 m (5,600 ft) has been identified.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cornwallis Island (Nunavut)</span>

Cornwallis Island is one of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, part of the Arctic Archipelago, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic. It lies to the west of Devon Island, the largest uninhabited island in the world, and at its greatest length is about 113 km (70 mi). At 6,995 km2 (2,701 sq mi) in size, it is the 96th largest island in the world, and Canada's 21st largest island. Cornwallis Island is separated by the Wellington Channel from Devon Island, and by the Parry Channel from Somerset Island to the south. Northwest of Cornwallis Island lies Little Cornwallis Island, the biggest of a group of small islands at the north end of McDougall Sound, which separates Cornwallis Island from nearby Bathurst Island.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bylot Island</span> Island lies off Baffin Island in Nunavut Territory, Canada

Bylot Island lies off the northern end of Baffin Island in Nunavut Territory, Canada. Eclipse Sound to the southeast and Navy Board Inlet to the southwest separate it from Baffin Island. Parry Channel lies to its northwest. At 11,067 km2 (4,273 sq mi) it is ranked 71st largest island in the world and Canada's 17th largest island. The island measures 180 km (110 mi) east to west and 110 km (68 mi) north to south and is one of the largest uninhabited islands in the world. While there are no permanent settlements on this Canadian Arctic island, Inuit from Pond Inlet and elsewhere regularly travel to Bylot Island. An Inuit seasonal hunting camp is located southwest of Cape Graham Moore.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station</span> Simulated Mars habitat on Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada

The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) is the first of two simulated Mars habitats located on Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada, which is owned and operated by the Mars Society. The station is a member of the EU-INTERACT, circumarctic network of currently 89 terrestrial field bases located in northern Europe, Russia, US, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Scotland as well as stations in northern alpine areas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pascal Lee</span> American planetary scientist

Pascal Lee is co-founder and chairman of the Mars Institute, a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, and the Principal Investigator of the Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He holds an ME in geology and geophysics from the University of Paris, and a PhD in astronomy and space sciences from Cornell University.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Haughton–Mars Project</span>

The Haughton–Mars Project (HMP) is an international interdisciplinary field research project being carried out near the Haughton impact crater on Canada's northern Devon Island. Human-centered computing (HCC) studies are aimed at determining how human explorers might live and work on other planetary objects, in particular on Mars. Conducted jointly by SETI and the Mars Institute, the project's goal is to utilize the Mars-like features of Devon Island and the impact crater to develop and test new technologies and field operating procedures, and to study the human dynamics which result from extended contact in close quarters. This knowledge will be used in planning missions by both humans and robots to other terrestrial bodies.

Beechey Island is an island located in the Arctic Archipelago of Nunavut, Canada, in Wellington Channel. It is separated from the southwest corner of Devon Island by Barrow Strait. Other features include Wellington Channel, Erebus Harbour, and Terror Bay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fury and Hecla Strait</span> Arctic strait below northwest Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

Fury and Hecla Strait is a narrow Arctic seawater channel located in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coburg Island</span> Island in Canada

Coburg Island is an uninhabited island in Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavut, Canada. It is one of the members of Queen Elizabeth Islands located in Baffin Bay's Lady Ann Strait. It is separated from Ellesmere Island by Glacier Strait; Devon Island is to the south.

Philpots Island is a member of the Queen Elizabeth Islands and the Arctic Archipelago in the territory of Nunavut. It is the largest of Devon Island's offshore islands, located at Devon's eastern end. It lies in Baffin Bay, with Hyde Inlet to the north, and the Parry Channel to the south.

Berlinguet Inlet is a body of water adjoining Baffin Island within the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It runs west–east at Admiralty Inlet's southern end, separated from Bernier Bay to the west, which opens into the Gulf of Boothia, by a 1.5 km (0.93 mi) isthmus. Baffin Island's Brodeur Peninsula is to the north; Borden Peninsula is to the northeast.

The Colin Archer Peninsula is located on the northwestern Devon Island, a part of the Qikiqtaaluk Region of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. It stretches eastward into Baffin Bay. It is named in honor of Colin Archer, naval architect and shipbuilder.

Saglirjuaq formerly Liddon Island is one of several irregularly shaped islands located in the Fury and Hecla Strait of Nunavut's Qikiqtaaluk Region within the northern Canadian Arctic. It is north of the mainland's Melville Peninsula, south of Baffin Island's Sikosak Bay, west of Simialuk, and east of Saglaarjuk.

Qaqulluit (Inuktitut syllabics: ᖃᖁᓪᓗᐃᑦ formerly Qaqaluit Island is one of eastern Baffin Island's small, offshore, uninhabited islands, located in the Arctic Archipelago in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut. Along with Paallavvik and Aggijjat, it is situated off Cumberland Peninsula within Davis Strait's Merchants Bay.

Baillarge Bay is an Arctic waterway in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It is the second waterway to press eastward from Admiralty Inlet into Baffin Island. The southern point of its mouth is named Ship Point.

Cape Liddon is an uninhabited headland on Devon Island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located on the southwestern coast of the island at Radstock Bay.

Nuvuttiq (ᓄᕗᑦᑎᖅ) formerly Cape Searle is an uninhabited headland located on Qaqaluit Island's northeastern tip, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Radstock Bay</span> Body of water

Radstock Bay is a waterway in Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. It lies off the southern coast of Devon Island in the eastern high Arctic. Like Maxwell Bay to the east, it is an arm of Lancaster Sound and Barrow Strait.

Pilattuaq formerly Scott Island is an uninhabited island in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in Baffin Bay, off the eastern coast of Baffin Island, in the middle of Scott Inlet, north of the confluence of Clark Fiord and Gibbs Fiord which embrace Qikiqtaaluk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northwest Passage Drive Expedition</span>

The Northwest Passage Drive Expedition (NWPDX) (2009–2011) was a multi-stage vehicular expedition from the North American mainland to Devon Island in the high Arctic, by way of the Northwest Passage. The expedition was led by planetary scientist Pascal Lee. Although the expedition was primarily logistical and was not intended to be a high fidelity simulation of a crewed pressurized rover traverse on the Moon or Mars, it was the first long-distance road trip dedicated to planetary exploration studies and provided important lessons for planning future long-range vehicular traverses off Earth. The expedition was also the first crossing of the Northwest Passage in a road vehicle. The first stage of the expedition, NWPDX-2009, established a record for the longest distance driven continuously on sea-ice in a road vehicle: 496 km (308 mi).


Further reading