Report from July 1990

This report includes brief summaries of recent activities of individuals, agencies and professional organisations involved in frozen ground research. Rcports from the field include the following: David Esch, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, reports that the paved airfield at Deadhorse in northern Alaska suffered from exccssive thawing and settlement during 1989. Permafrost preservation beneath the Bethel Airport road is planned using an experimental installation of thermosyphons installed diagonally across the roadway in shallow trenches at 8-foot intervals. Tom Osterkamp, University of Alaska, continues measuring permafrost temperatures at about 20 sites between Prudhue Bay in northern Alaska to Valdez. Several sites are instrumented for TDR, neutron logging, heave and electrical conductivity. Laboratory studies continue on solute redistribution during freezing. Model development to simulate permafrost changes to palaeotemperatures is underway. AL. Washburn, University of Washington, reports he is continuing his field work on Cornwallis Island, N.W.T., under the auspices of Canada's Polar Continental Shelf Project. The research focus is on patterned ground and mass-wasting, with background studies on glaciation and delevelling. T.L. WwB, Arizona State University, and his Canadian colleagues, J.A. Westgate and B.A. Stemper, have concluded that loess deposition in the Fairbanks, Alaska area, began at least 3,000,000 years ago. These findings are based on isothermal plateau fission-track ages from the Gold Hill permafrost section. This section is being designated for its special scientific importance and protected with funds provided by the State of Alaska. Frederick Nelson, Rutgers University, edited a special symposium issue of Physical Geography 10(3), containing several papers on permafrost by Nelson and O.A. Anisimov, State Hydrological Institute, Leningrad. Nelson and Anisimov are conducting joint research on permafrost mapping and the effects of climate change on permafrost distribution.

K.A. Kvenvolden and T.S. Collett, US Geological Survey, report that publication of results and work continue on gas hydrates with collection of gases during drilling of the permafrost/gas hydrate stratigraphic interval at Milne Point, Alaska. O.J. Fenians, USGS, continues to revise and update the 1:2.500.000-scale permafrost map of Alaska. George Cryc, USGS, reports continued progress on the Circum-Pacific Map Project with both the Geodynamic map and the Plate-Tectonic map being available during 1990. A special thematic Arctic Sheet depicting geographic features including permafrost is also in preparation.

The Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) reports several field and climate related activities. Dan Lawson continued analysis of stable isotope variations in Alaskan ground ice and permafrost stability. Richard Haugen developed a regional matrix of estimated spatial and temporal air and ground temperatures from along the pipeline road. Virgil Lunardini acquired a dataset on pavement surface temperature in order to further develop relationships of surface energy balance and changes in temperature of permafrost. James Rooney, Ray Kreig and Duane Miller attended the Fiflh Sovict Conference on Engineering-Geological Site Investigation in Permafrost in Magadan, during October 1989. The conference was hosted by the Northeast Engineering Surveys Trust and chaired by Eduard Ershov, Moscow State University. Return visits to Alaska for several Sovict organisers and participants from Magadan, Anadyr and Moscow are planned for spring and summer 1990.

The American Geophysical Union bestowed the 1989 Walter H. Bucher Medal upon Arthur H. Lachenbruch for his original contributions to basic knowledge of the Earth's crust. His many accomplishments in advancing permafrost science were recognised as part of the award.

The American Society of Civil Engineers publishcd the proceedings of last year's conference on climate change in its quarterly Journal of Cold Regions Engineering. Several design monographs are in preparation by the Technical Council on
Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) and include the following: Cold Regions Hydrology and Hydraulics, Arctic Foundations, and Roadways and Airfields. Several conferences are planned: The Sixth International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering focusing on engineering technology in the 21st century to be held in Hanover, New Hampshire, February 26-28, 1991; the Seventh Conference in Canada 1994; and The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) sponsored International Arctic Technology Conference, Anchorage, Alaska, May 29-31, 1991.

The US Committee on Permafrost of the Polar Research Board, National Research Council, is reviewing the status of its recommendations prepared during the 1980s. The Committee participated in organizing several technical meetings including the ASCE climatic change workshop and its publication and is considering workshops on Antarctic permafrost and permafrost environments under conditions of global change. Members of the US Committee for IPA have completed their initial five-year terms of office and the new membership is under consideration at this time.

An International Symposium on Frozen Soil Impacts on Agricultural, Range and Forest Lands was held in Spokane, Washington, March 21-22, 1990. The Symposium grew out of more than ten years of intensive investigations concerning frozen soil impacts in northwestern United States and other northern regions. The work has been organized by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Oregon State University, University of Idaho, and Washington State University. The Proceedings volume contains 43 papers and was published by CRREL as Special Report 90-1. For more information contact the symposium chairman, Keith Saxton, USDA, ARS, Pullman, Washington. Upon learning of the Symposium, the Chairman, USC/IPA provided the organisers of the Symposium with information on IPA and copies of Frozen Ground No. 6.

The Transportation Research Board's Frost Action Committee met in Washington, D.C., on 8 January 1990. Details of its activities can be obtained from the Chairman, Thomas Kinney, or the Secretary, David Esch (ADTPF), University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, 99775).

The US Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee is coordinating the development of a multidisciplinary data directory and a CD-ROM based storage and retrieval system. The Arctic Environmental Data Directory (AEDD) has approximately 300 entries. The CD-ROM wilt include the permafrost bibliographies published in conjunction with previous permafrost conferences (GD 14 and GD 21). Permafrost data entries from other countries are encouraged. Additional information is available from the IPA Data Working Group (Barry or Molnia) or J. Brown.

The report of the Workshop on Permafrost Data and Information held in conjunction with FICOP in Trondheim, Norway on 2 August 1988 was published in Glaciological Data Reporf GD-23. Copies can be obtained from Roger Barry, workshop organiser and report author and coeditor of Glaciological Notes (CIRES. University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309).

The Third International Conference on Ground Penetrating Radar was scheduled to be held in Lakewood. Colorado, 14-18 May 1990. Several papers on permafrost were included in the program. Additional information is available from Gart Olhoeft, US Geological Survey, PO Box 25046, DFC MS964, Denver, Colorado 80225-0046.

Copies of Proceedings: Permafrost Fourth Internalional Conference Volume 1 only, 1524 pages, are still available for $US 45.00 from Bruce Molnia, US Geological Survey, MS 917, Reston, Virginia. 22092.

Report from December 1990

CRREL Report

The following report highlights frozen ground research and related activities at the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover. New Hampshire.

CRREL, conducts research and develops design criteria for geoteclinical engineering problems in both seasonal frost and permafrost regions. The laboratory is located in Hanover, NH. and employs more than 30 professional staff members in frozen ground research and related activities. While CRREL is an Army research laboratory, its geotechnical engineering program is funded by other government gencies and is focused on both the military and civilian needs of the United States.

CRREL has many unique facilities for conducting frozen ground research. There are 12 cold rooms devoted to preparing and testing soils and a 29,000 square foot refrigerated test facility (FERF) for full-scale tests on pavements, soils, structures and vehicles. Two servo-controlled test machines with controlled temperature chambers are available for conducting strength tests. There is specialised equipment for determining the frost susceptibility of soil, unfrozen water content by NMR spectroscopy, soil moisture characteristics and hydraulic conductivity, thaw consolidation by permeability, and non-destructive measurement of frost heave phenomena by dual gamma techniques. An instrumented test vehicle
is used to measure tire traction in thawing soil. In addition, there are analytical chemistry laboratories with gas chromatographs and spectrometers to analyse soil chemistry. A scanning electron microscope is used to determine frozen soil structure. CRREL also maintains an office in Fairbanks, Alaska. At the nearby Farmers Loop Road test facility are areas with permafrost soils. A 360 foot long tunnel in permafrost provides a unique facility for permafrost research at Fox, Alaska.


Much of CRREL's frozen ground research is focused on geotechnical engineering problems in seasonal frost regions. There is a major thrust to develop new designs and test and design procedures for pavements in seasonal frost regions. Mechanistic design procedures are being developed to replace less reliable and more costly empirical designs. The use of geotextiles, geocomposite drains and soil stabilisers to minimise the effects of frost action are also being evaluated. This work is being supported and conducted in cooperation with the FAA, FHWA and the Michigan and Minnesota Department of Transportation offices. Research into the fundamental properties and processes in freezing soils also continues. Test methods for determining the hydraulic conductivity of frozen soils are being developed. Studies also include the physical relationships that govern ice segregation in freezing soils and modelling frost heave. Research is also being conducted in theenvironmental area. Studies are proceeding on the effects of frost on soil liners and covers for waste disposal sites and the use of ground freezing to contain and concentrate spills and chemicals in soils.

There isamajor study of off road mobility and traction in thawing soils. Studies are also being conducted on insulated foundations and buried utility lines. Thermal models are being developed to evaluate subsurface temperature and moisture regimes.

CRREL is developing design procedures for piles in permafrost. Special thermosyphons are being developed to freeze large horizontal areas. This work is directly related to the construction on permafrost of a very large Over-The-Horizon (OTH) radar antenna system. Studies are also continuing on the properties of subsea permafrost and on geophysical methods for delineating ice-bonded permafrost. CRREL is monitoring the active layer in permafrost at the Caribou-Poker Creek watershed near Fairbanks, AK, to determine the effects of different terrain characteristics on freeze and thaw depths and moisture conditions. A drilling program in northern Alaska will soon begin to obtain ground temperature data for a paleo-climatic study related to global warming. There are also studies of the winter conditions in coastal wetlands, off-road vehicle use and moisture regime in organic soils. Studies are continuing on soil erosion along embankments, revegetation of trails, and the cold tolerance of plants in seasonal frost and permafrost regions.

Other CRREL News

The maturing of CRREL's staff has been recently marked by the retirement of three of its most prominent frozen ground researchers; Fred Crory, Frank Sayles andThad Johnson. Crory is well known for his work with pile foundations in permafrost and Sayles for his studies of creep in frozen soils. Johnson was very active in pavements research. Crory and Sayles will continue to be associated with CRREL. CRREL is well aware that their expertise in the traditional permafrost foundation areas needs to be canied on by younger staff members and that new specialists need to be recruited to fill their vacancies. To foster communication, peer review and cross-fertilisation in frozen ground research, two new groups have been formed; the Pavements Research Group and the Geotechnical Engineering Group. Outside interest in these activities
is welcome. Contact Steve Ketcham on Pavements Group and Ed Chamberlain on Geotechnical Group.


The Technical Council for Cold Regions Engineering (TCCRE) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) wasorganisedin 1977 and hasgrown rapidly in the past decade. Comprised of an executive committee and seven administrative and technical committees, it is listed as a special interest area by over 4,000 ASCE members. The Council sponsors International Cold Regions Specialty Conferences at 2 to 3 year intervals, being careful to avoid holding such a conference in the same year as the International Permafrost Conference. The next (6th) Cold Regions Specialty Conference will be held in Lebanon, New Hampshire, on February 26-28, 199 1. TCCRE committees also produce monographs of cold regions engineering practice. These have received much favorable comment from practitioners. The Council further produces a quarterly journal of peer reviewed papers, entitled the ASCE Journal of Cold Regions Engineering. Two ASCE Society awards receive primary nominations from the Council, namely, the Can-Am Amity Award and the Harold R. Peyton Award. A best paper award is also given for the Journal of Cold Regions Engineering. TCCRE committee members give important service to the organizing and conduct of International Permafrost Conferences. Included are the peer review of papers in the civil engineering area, as well as the solicitation of paper contributions to these Conferences. TCCRE also pays a part of the US annual dues for the International Permafrost Association.