IRN RISCDIS Kick-off meeting at the University of Quebec in Rimouski (May 24-June 2, 2022)

A first meeting between the French and Quebec partners took place at ISMER/UQAR (Rimouski) and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence between May 24 and June 2. In addition to the presentation of the IRN, the partners learned about each other’s expertise and discussed the methods of implementing the RISCDIS project, which involves Japanese, American, Quebec and French universities and laboratories.

In this prospect, a seminar was organized on Monday, May 30 involving 12 French and Quebec researchers. The context, objectives, operating structure, available funds and expected deliverables were presented and discussed among the participants, after which began the scientific presentations according to the themes selected for RISCDIS below:

  • Paleoseismicity in the St. Lawrence.
  • Coastal erosion and flooding in Quebec.
  • Coastal resilience.
  • Storms and underwater landslides – example of the canyons of Pointe-des-Monts
  • Floods in Quebec.
  • Social-ecological systems and changes.
  • Red tides and toxic blooms
  • Impacts of storms on the Arctic coastline
  • Melting of the glaciers
  • IRN IT support (common website and databases)

These presentations made it possible to initiate a fruitful dialogue and to address in depth the strategic questions of scientific obstacles and the methods of implementing interdisciplinarity between the various experts involved in the project.

The day of May 27 was devoted to the visit of the Coriolis II ship, an ultramodern oceanographic research vessel 50 meters long equipped with the latest technological innovations thanks to the partnership between the universities of McGill, Laval and Quebec in Montreal. Equipped with laboratories on board dedicated to research work during missions at sea, they make it possible to form multidisciplinary research teams that can accommodate up to 14 local or international scientists.

Within the framework of the RISCDIS project, the Coriolis constitutes a centerpiece in terms of the study of the submarine landslides and tsunamis that it can generate thanks to the sedimentary cores and the geophysical data that it authorizes. In this perspective, the SLIDE-2020 mission (Submarines Landslides: Interpretation and Dating in the St.Lawrence Estuary) during which a great deal of data was collected will strongly guide a future thesis between Chrono-Environnement and ISMER/UQAR.

A fundamental dimension of RISCDIS, the preparation and reduction of the vulnerability of populations to risks resulted in the holding of an Open Forum in the municipality of Sainte-Félicité, part of the regional municipality of La Matanie (Bas-Saint -Laurent). The storm of December 6, 2010, and the flooding it caused, was particularly damaging. The water levels reached on this occasion were on average 2.0m above the high tide upper high tide level. The phenomenon repeated itself on December 30, 2017, with the same consequences in terms of erosion, damage to homes and submersion of the coastal road. It is therefore not surprising that this territory is the subject of particular monitoring by social science researchers at UQAR.

This is why on May 28, an Open Forum was held organized by Professor Steve Plante (UQAR), risk anthropologist, and his master’s and doctoral students. On this occasion, several dozen inhabitants, as well as local political decision-makers (representatives of the MRC, deputy of Gaspésie) gathered around the theme of coastal risks. Following a well-established methodology of participatory dialogue and relying on the rules of collective intelligence (trust in the process, benevolence, pleasure), the organizers were able to bring out legitimate questions and concerns among the citizens present. The resulting debates then made it possible to co-construct reflections on adaptation strategies (withdrawal, hard defenses, incentive taxation), to develop a collective spirit in the face of risks and to defuse potential conflicts. The success of this event will lead to renewing this type of citizen experience on site within the framework of RISCDIS.

The days of May 31 and June 1 were dedicated to field visits in Haute-Gaspésie organized by Professors Francis Gauthier and Guillaume St-Onge (UQAR). More precisely, two types of risks were targeted based on local geographic examples.

The first concerned the flash floods that devastated the locality of Marsoui (south shore of the St. Lawrence River) in August 2014. In addition to collapses, they were the source of a huge influx of sediments and jams of uprooted trees coming from the Chic-Chocs mountain range which killed 4 people, destroyed 9 houses and caused the evacuation of 59 other dwellings. On site, the researchers were able to observe the technical measures implemented to try to mitigate, if not avoid, these extreme meteorological phenomena.

A few kilometers further, on coastal road 132 which runs along the south coast of the St. Lawrence River and Gulf, they were able to observe several recent landslides caused by melting snow. Resulting from the melting of the snow, the clay soils slip and take away the trees from the slopes which directly threaten this strategic axis of communication for the regional economy. On this occasion, Francis Gauthier presented a UQAR monitoring station fixed by his team directly on the wall of the cliff in order to predict any risk of collapse for motorists.