Report from July 1990

During 1989 a delegation from the Chinese Academy of Sciences visited the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, where the  Director of the Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology expressed interest in joint permafrost studies with Chinese geocryologists. An invitation to attend the Sixth International Symposium on Ground Freezing, to be held in Beijing on 10-12 September 1991, is to be sent to the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

A joint Sino-Soviet joint expedition to the Chinese and Soviet sides of Tien Shan will take place from June to September 1990. Five scientists from the Soviet Union will take drilling equipment to the Chinese Tien Shan to work on mountain permafrost, and three Chinese scientists (including IPA Vice-President Cheng Guodong) will visit the Soviet Tien Shan. The study will yield a joint monograph titled Permafrost in Tien Shan.

Discussions are under way concerning a joint Sino-US project to drill a 250 m deep borehole on the Qinghan Xizang plateau. This proposal is regarded, as offering a major contribution to research on global change and permafrost, and the plans should be consolidated through a visit to China by Professor Osterkamp in October 1990.

Zhu Yuanlin reports that a new cold region science research centre - the State-Major Frozen Soil Engineering Laboratory (FSEL) is under construction at the Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Academia Sinica, and is scheduled for completion at the end of 1992. With a wide range of analytical instrumentation, the main aim of the laboratory will be to investigate the physical, mechanical and physico-chemical processes of freezing, thawing and frozen ground, together with their application to engineering practice and environmental research in cold regions. Research will focus on the mechanism of mass transfer and ice formation during soil freezing and thawing; frost heave processes, forces and prediction; thaw consolidation processes and thaw settlement prediction; creep and strength behaviour of frozen soils under various loading modes and stress states; thermal creep behaviour and freezing point depression under loading of frozen soils; simulation of temperature and stress fields for various structures on and in frozen subsoil under various boundary conditions; and principles and techniques relating to frost damage prevention, the thawing of frozen soil, and the applications of natural cold energy. The Laboratory will be pleased to accommodate postgraduate studies from overseas scientists.

Following a decision by the ICSU Panel on World Data Centers in August 1988, World Data Center D (WDC-D) was  established in China in January 1989, and comprises nine disciplinary centers. WDC-D for Glaciology (Snow and Ice) and
Geocryology is opcrated by, and co-located with, the Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology (LIGG), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China. The Director is Professor Xie Zichu, Vice Directors are Professor Zeng Qunzhu and Professor Cheng Guodong, and the Executive Secretary is Assistant Professor Chen Xianzhang. Contact can be achieved through telephone (0931) 26725 Extension 251: Cable Lanzhou 0393: and Telex 72008 IGGAS CN. Planned data holdings will cover Glaciology (glacier inventory; glacial hydrology; glacial climatology; ice cores; polar ice sheets; river, lake and sea ice; ice chemistry; ice physical paramelcrs; satellite imagery of glacial areas; enginecring panmetcrs of ice), Geocryology (permafrost distribution; permafrost temperature; profile data on permafrost geology; thermal and mechanical parameters of frozen soil; ground ice; satellite imagery of permafrost regions), Snow Cover (ground data; snow chemistry; snow avalanche and snowdrift; snow physical parameters; remotely-sensed snow data; engineering parameters of snow) and literature and map resources. WDC-D is open to visitors during normal working hours. Data listings are issued periodically, and data can be provided on magnetic media (for snow and ice reflection, and northern hemisphere snow cover) and in printed or microfilm format or other data types.

Report from December 1990

General Information on tlie Notional Frozen Soil Engineering Laboratory, Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Academia Sinica.


Nearly half the land of the Northern Hemisphere is frozen in the winter. The areas of northern permanently and seasonally frozen ground in China are about 20%, and 50% of the total area, respectively, i.e., 75% of tlie total land area suffers the cyclic changes of freezing and thawing. Various kinds of engineering constsuctions frequently suffer damage due to the
freezing and thawing of foundations. To utilize and reform frozen ground and ensure safe operation of engineering constructions in cold regions. it is necessary to understand the characteristics of frozen ground. to determine the relationship between frozen ground and engineering activities of mankind and to learn how to control adjust the various changes  occurring in frozen ground.

The objective of the National Frozen Soil Engineering Laboratory (NFSEL) is to provide the place and facilities for experts. scholars and young scientists both at home and abroad to carry out the theoretical and practical research on frozen soils so as to obtain results with a high level of accuracy and to cultivate excellent scientists and engineers.


By ratification of the National Planning Committee and Chinese Academy of Sciences. NFSEL was begun in 1989 and will be completed at the end of 1991 with tlie total usable floor area of 3600 m² including 300 m² of low temperature rooms. At present. NFSEL is at the stage of construction and operation.

NFSEL was composed mainly of laboratories which originally belonged to the division of Engineering Geocryology and the Division of Geocryological Forecast and Environment of Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Academia Sinica. It has many experienced and qualified scientists, engineers and technicians, and some of them have visited or worked at associated laboratories of various countries such as the United States, Japan, the Soviet Union and France. For many years they not only systematically studied the physical, mechanical and thermal properties of frozen soils in the laboratory, but also undertook research work on the frozen ground problems of national major projects, such as the construction of highways, railroads and petroleum pipelines on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, the artificial freezing project in Lianghui coal mine and the previous study on the west line plan of the water transportation project from the south to the north. In recent years, three books and 215 articles were published, and ten of the research achievements were rewarded by the State or Chinese Academy of Sciences with 1st, 2nd, 3rd classes respectively. At the same time, the studies on strength and creep behaviour of frozen soils and water migration in freezing and frozen soils have gained new progress. The experimentation of the laboratory now is marching forward to precision, automation and regulation.

Personnel and Facilities

The total regular staff of the laboratory number 33, one full professor, 11 associate professors and senior engineers, 12 engineers including 9 postgraduate students (2 of them with Ph.D. and 7 with M.Sc.). They are working in three research groups and two technical service groups, respectively. The research groups contain 22 laboratories which have instruments and equipment valued at 4,000 yuan and will import and develop the instruments and equipment to the value of 3,800,000 yuan.

The academic committee of NFSEL consists of 18 eminent scientists and researchers both at home and abroad and will play a leading role in academic activities of the laboratory.

The Direction and Content of Research

The research direction of NFSEL is to investigate the physical, mechanical and physio-chemical processes which occur in freezing, thawing and frozen soils, as well as their mechanism and model, and their applications to the studies of engineering construction and environment.

The main contents of research are as follows:

  • Moisture redistribution in freezing and thawing processes of soils,mechanism and model of water migration and ice formation;
  • Solution migration on freezing and thawing processes of soils and its formation and forecast principle;
  • Creep and strength theory of frozen soil, rheological mechanism and constitutive relocations;
  • Developing processes, regularly modelling frost heave and heave forces;
  • Regularly modelling thaw settlement and drainage consolidation;
  • The influence of cryogenetic texture on the physic-mechanical properties of frozen soils and the influence of cryogenic phenomenon on engineering;
  • Thermo-rheology of ice and ice-rich soils, phase transition and thawing point changes under pressure: Interaction between various engineering constructions and frozen ground and it's influence on the environment;
  • Analogue and model test for studying temperature, stress and moisture fields of various naturally and artificially frozen ground and constructions under various boundary conditions;
  • Freezing and thawing processes of soils under different heat and moisture conditions and principles of heat and moisture improvement;
  • Reforming and utilizing frozen ground, including principles and countermeasures for preventing structures from preventing soil freezing and use of natural cold energy;
  • Improvement and development of technique and method used for frozen soil test.

Application Guide

NFSEL can accept about 20 guest researchers every year and welcomes experts, scholars, engineers and young scientists who are engaged in the study of frozen ground or engineering construction in cold regions both at home and abroad coming to work there. Application formalities are as follows;

  • (a) Writing a letter to NFSEL and asking them to send an application form;
  • (b) Completing the application and returning it to NFSEL before the end of June each year;
  • (c) The academic committee of NFSEL will consider all application forms and send out a notice before the end of September;
  • (d) If the application has been successful then the research work could be started from November each year;
  • (e) NFSEL will give financial support for all adopted research work (not including the international travel fee).

If you need further information about NFSEL, please write or call us using the following address: National Frozen Soil Engineering Laboratory (NFSEL), Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Academia Sinica, Lanzhou, 730000. China. Telegram: Lanzhou 0393. Phone number: 26725-399 or 389 or 472. Telex: 72008 IGGAS CN.