The British periglacial and permafrost community is in the process of formally developing as an association affiliated to the IPA, the British Periglacial and Permafrost Association (BPPA). Its inaugural meeting was planned for December 14, 2005 at Cardiff University, organised by Charles Harris and Julian Murton.

Full-scale modelling of gelifluction processes has been initiated by Charles Harris, Julian Murton and Michael Davies in collaboration with Marianne Fonte and Gérard Guillemet in the cold laboratories of Laboratoire Morphodynamique Continentale et Côtière, UMR CNRS 6143 / Université de Caen, France. Two full-scale slope models have been constructed, 4 m in total length, 1.5 m in width, and constructed in identical Caen silt. Models are subject to identical air temperature freezing and thawing cycles, but a freezing plate is installed in the base of one slope, maintaining a permafrost surface beneath a 30- cm thick active layer, while the second model has a basal drainage layer and is allowed to thaw completely between freezing cycles. The research will compare solifluction processes associated with one-sided, active-layer freezing (nonpermafrost) and two-sided freezing (permafrost) by measuring soil and air thermal conditions, frost heave and settlement, downslope soil movement, volumetric moisture content and pore pressures. Three, full freeze-thaw cycles have so far been completed.

A second project entitled «Modelling Pre-failure Shear Strain (Solifluction) in Freezing and Thawing Soil Slopes» commenced in May 2005 at Cardiff University, with Charles Harris (Earth Sciences), Hywel Thomas and Peter Cleall (Engineering) as principal scientists, and Martina Luetschg (Earth Sciences) and Katherine Butterfield (Engineering) as Post-Doctoral Fellows. The programme will develop numerical modelling of periglacial solifluction, calibrated and validated against scaled physical modelling in the geotechnical centrifuge and field monitoring. As part of this programme a new field station was installed in Endalen, Svalbard, in collaboration with Hanne H. Christiansen of UNIS and Fraser Smith of Dundee University. The station will monitor permafrost solifluction process variables and replicate the Caen full-scale laboratory modelling experiment, measuring air and ground thermal conditions, surface frost heave and settlement, downslope displacement, volumetric moisture content and pore pressures.

The bedrock ice-segregation experiments, funded by NERC and led by Julian Murton (Sussex University), finished in the Caen cold rooms and preliminary results were presented at the Second European Permafrost Conference in June 2005. The results are currently being analysed for publication in collaboration with Rorik Peterson (University of Alaska, Fairbanks).

Julian Murton (j.b.murton@sussex.ac.uk)