Delineation of Watersheds in the Mackenzie Mountains

Delineation of Watersheds in the Mackenzie Mountains

Stream in the Mackenzie Mountains


The Northwest Territories Geological Survey (NTGS) has been completing a regional stream sediment sampling program across the Mackenzie Mountains, in partnership with the Geological Survey of Canada. To go with the geochemical analyses from this program, a project was undertaken to develop a detailed set of drainage basins for this region. The final product will present a nested series of watersheds based on stream segment order.

Location of the study area (red outline) within the Northwest Territories. Credit: NTGS.


The study area is located in the Mackenzie Mountains, Northwest Territories.

The fourth order watershed boundaries within the study area (red outline). Credit: NTGS.


To interpret the results of the geochemical analyses, it was required to have detailed watershed data created from stream segment order. However, the best publicly available watersheds for the study area are at approximately a 1:1,000,000 scale. The detailed data necessary for the sampling program did not previously exist. 

A stream sediment sampling site in the Mackenzie Mountains.  Credit: NTGS.


To derive the watersheds for the study area, an ESRI ArcGIS geoprocessing model was used (courtesy of R. Fraser, Canada Centre for Remote Sensing). A digital elevation model (DEM) and hydrology (watercourse and waterbody) data are needed for this model. All inputs are at a 1:50,000 scale, which is the most detailed existing public data for the study area.

Showing the nested series of watersheds. Sixth order (blue polygons), fifth order (red outlines), fourth order (orange outlines), and third order (yellow outlines).  Credit: NTGS.


This project is in the final stages of the quality control process with an aim for publication of the dataset in spring 2015.


Watershed, Drainage basin, Mackenzie, Mountains, Geodatabase, GIS