During this past year the Russian Academy of Sciences restructured its permafrost organizations. The National Permafrost Committee and the Scientific Council on Earth  Cryology were combined into the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology. Its chair is Vladimir P. Melnikov. The officers and members of the new council are identified in the accompanying table.
The first annual meeting of the new council was in Pushchino during the International Conference on Fundamental Research of Earth Cryosphere in the Arctic and Subarctic. The conference was organized by the council and was attended by approximately 125 participants, including 10 foreign scientists and engineers. A total of 109 abstracts were published in Russian and English before the conference in a special volume (234 pages).

There were three plenary and three special sessions, two round tables, and a joint session of the IPA Cryosol Working Group and ISSS Cryosol Subcommission. Plenary subjects covered many aspects of geocryology, including paleogeography of the cryolithozone, prediction of permafrost evolution, modeling, monitoring, and interrelationships between components of onshore and offshore cryogenic geosystems. Many problems were discussed at the special sessions:
gas emission, gas hydrates, results of experimental and field studies of gas hydrates and greenhouse gas fluxes on land, lakes and shelves of different arctic regions, cryogenesis and soil formation processes, cryosol classification, and periglacial processes.
Members took part in round table discussions on new geocryological databases and a digital map of contemporary geocryological processes of Russia at a scale of 1:7,500,000 (Earth Cryosphere Institute), and prospects for geocryological investigations in the Russian Arctic and Subarctic.
Two draft projects were presented. The first was a program called The Arctic: The Environment and Its Stability, Mineral and Biological Resources, Climate, Hydrometeorological and Geocryologid Prediction, by V.P. Melnikov, E.S. Melnikov and F.E. Are. This proposal is under the State Combined Scientific and Technical Program of Russia, entitled Combined Investigations Ocean and Seas; Arctic and Antarctic in 1996-2000. The second was Cryosphere of the Laptev Sea System, A Draft of Prospects for Russian-German cooperation in 1998-2000, by H.-W. Hubberten and N.N. Romanovskii.
Members of the Consolidated Scientific Council on Earth Cryology and Bureau of the Council and principal documents were announced. The council agreed to conduct the next annual international conference in the last 10 days of April 1997 and to invite foreign scientists. One special topic will be evidence and distribution of paleopermafrost.  Information about the next conference will be available soon. The council supported the suggestion by V.M. Kotlyakov and V.P. Melnikov to publish the journal Earth Cryology. The publishers will be in Novosibirsk.
On 3-5 June 1996 the First Conference of Geocryologists of Russia was held at Moscow State University. It was organized and sponsored by 16 main geocryological institutions of Russia. The Chairperson of the Organizing Committee was E.D. Ershov, the Co-Chairs were V.V. Baulin and R.M. Karnensky, and the Scientific Secretary was N.I. Trush. The plenary session was devoted to development of the ideas of V.A. Kudryavtsev in geocryology, the main scientific problems in geocryology, and international cooperation at the Melnikov Permafrost Institute. Five sections discussed the problems of engineering geocryology (42 reports submitted), dynamic geocryology (28 reports), geocryological forecasting and geoecology (21 reports), regional and historical geocryology (45 reports), and the physical chemistry and mechanics of frozen soils (29 reports).
A total of 165 reports were published in three pre-conference volumes in Russian. The volumes are available from the Geocryological Department of the Faculty of Geology, MSU for $30. For more information contact: N.I.Trush, Faculty of Geology, Geocryological Department, Moscow State University, Vorobievy Gory, 119899 Moscow, Russia. Tel: 7 095 939 4919; Fax: 7 095 233 4084.

Submitted by N.N. Romanovskii and I.D. Streletskaya (nromanovsky@glas.apc.org)

Other News

Russian organizations and institutions are welcome to submit descriptions of their programs and activities.
The Institute of Soil Science and Photosynthesis has a new director: V.A. Shuvalov, Corresponding Member, Russian Academy of Sciences. The institute plans to host the next Earth Cryology Conference in Pushchino in April 1997. David Gilichinsky and colleagues continue to develop plans for the International Permafrost School.
The Earth Cryosphere Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences is located in Tyumen with a branch office in Moscow. The director is Vladimir P. Melnikov and the head of the Branch of Geocryological Prognosis and Informatics in Moscow is Evgeny S. Melnikov, who reports the following.
The ECI conducts both basic and applied investigations. Basic studies include:

  • Theoretical, field and experimental investigations of the development of natural and technogenic geosystems and geocryological processes.
  • Fundamentals of geocryological surveys, digital mapping, modeling and forecasting.
  • Fundamentals of geological monitoring and assessment of impact on the onshore environment in the Arctic and Subarctic.
  • Investigation of the distribution, properties, and geocryological processes of offshore permafrost deposits.
  • Studies of the thermodynamics and physico-chemical mechanics of freezing soils, ice and materials (cryogenic water migration, ice lensing, heaving etc.).
  • Studies of gas hydrate properties and distribution in the earth cryosphere.

Applied studies include, among other topics:

  • Assessment of engineering and geocryological conditions in the oil- and gas-bearing arctic regions and recommendations for rational use of nature during technological impacts.
  • Recommendations for development of oil and gas fields in connection with the distribution of cryogenic deposits on the shelf of the Russian sector of the Arctic Ocean, as well as the influence of subsea permafrost on linear structures.
  • Interpretation of geological and geophysical data, results of three-dimensional seismic prospecting, and data on the dynamics of developed fields of hydrocarbons.
  • Collection of geocryologid raw data and metadata covering the regions with oil and gas field development in the Arctic and Subarctic.
  • Compilation of digital geocryological and geoecological maps.
  • Techniques for production of artificial ice and icecompositional materials.
  • Methods for estimating areas of thaw and settlement close to a cluster of wells.
  • Technology for preventing local degradation of permafrost with foam shields.
  • Technological production and application of efficient foam sorbents and peat filters.
  • Geotechnid designs for preventing: (a) thermal cracking in frozen soils, embankments and darns, and frost crack interaction with pavements, chilled pipelines, cables, foundations, etc., (b) frost heaving and ice-lensing inside of soils, embankments, dams, roads, foundations, etc.

Digital maps have been prepared for the Nizhnwartovsk Oil Association, the Samotlor Oil Association, the Chernogor Oil Association, and the Belozer Oil Association, among others. Information presented on the maps includes rivers and reservoirs, forests, populated areas and their structure (resident4 blocks and streets), basic communication (roads, oil pipelines, electric power lines, etc.), and industrial objects (flares, well clusters, pumping stations, boilers). Eight doctors of science and 26 bachelors of science are working on 11 projects in the institute. Facilities include a radiospectrometer; a combined reflecting spectrometer; a mass spectrometer; spectral analyzers; chemical, soil mechanics, and physical properties laboratories; cold chambers; seismographs; ultrasonic translucent instruments; and computers. Geoinformation systems are developed using ARC/INFO. For more information, contact: The Earth Cryosphere Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, P.O. Box 1230,625000 Tyumen, Russia. Tel: 7 345 224 3649; Fax: 7 345 222 3380;E-mail: root@ikz.tyumen.su or The Earth Cryosphere Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Branch of Geocryological Prognosis and Informatics, Vavilov Str., 3016, r.85, 117982 Moscow, Russia. Tel: 7 095 135 9871,7 095 135 9828; Fax: 7 095 135 6582; E-mail: emelnikov@glas.apc.org