Melville Island


click to enlarge

Melville Island is a medium-sized island that sits north of Victoria Island, near the western edge of the Arctic Archipelago. Melville Island's coastline is gouged with many large inlets and bays, and ranges in elevation from low beaches to 300-metre cliffs. Its interior topography consists of three main sections. The first is a plateau formed by Dundas Peninsula and the two promontories between Barry Bay and Purchase Bay; the second region is a low plain in the northeast, which extends from Marie Bay east to Long Point, and from Sabine Peninsula north of the land between Eldridge Bay and Sherard Bay; and the third section is a folded upland lying between the first two regions. There are no settlements on Melville Island, although there are signs of past use by Inuit.

The plateau in the southwest is very flat and smooth with the land sloping towards the north and east on Dundas Peninsula. The peninsula is low along the coast. The area north of Liddon Gulf is dissected by river valleys and is separated from the sea by 300-metre cliffs.

The northeastern lowlands are flat, with few distinctive landmarks. There are a few small lakes and braided streams, two eroded domes – one inland from Eden Bay and the other at Cape Coloquhoun – and a coastline that consists of lowland beaches.

The central region of the island is the largest of the three sections. The southeast is lower, but much more folded with series of ridges that form elliptical patterns and escarpments. The elevation here varies between 200 and 500 metres, and there are rocky outcrops of limestone, sandstone, or shale. Cliffs surround Weatherall Bay, while narrow beaches sharply rise into 100-metre cliffs to the south. West of Nelson Griffiths Point, the coastline is moderately high. To the northwest, the landscape is less rugged and eventually forms a plateau with deeply cut valleys. The west end of this region ends in two promontories, which form cliffs where they meet at the sea.