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    Engineering Problems and Construction in Permafrost Regions

    Encyclopedia Arctica 2a: Permafrost-Engineering

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_IIA-0053                                                                                                                  

           HELEN: Please put note on our file copy of St. Paul

    Engineers Permafrost article (or on folder

    containing the article) that before it goes

    to printer we must do something about

    Table II. At time we are attending to this

    matter, we should consult letters from

    Shelly (March 23, 1950) and Roberts (Mar. 27)



    Unpaginated      |      Vol_IIA-0054                                                                                                                  
    (EA:I. US Army Eng.)





    Introduction 1
    Purpose and Scope 1
    Permafrost 1
    Permafrost and Related Ground Conditions 3
    Thermal Regime 4
    Groundwater 5
    Surface Water 7
    Ground Action During Freezing and Thawing 8
    Strength of Frozen Ground 9
    Reconnaissance and Site Selection 10
    Preliminary Investigations 11
    Construction Factors in Site Selections 14
    Investigating Surface and Subsurface Conditions 17
    Clues to Permafrost, Soils, and Groundwater 17
    Test Holes 20
    Sketch Maps and Profiles of Soil, Groundwater, and Permafrost 23
    Reconnaissance Report 24
    Roads and Airfields 24
    Planning 24
    Advance Preparation 24
    Stage Construction 27
    Design and Construction 29
    Precautions at Site 29
    Surveys 30
    Fixing Location of Runways, Taxiways, and Roads 31
    Establishing Grade Lines and Cross Sections 33
    Drainage Systems and Structures for Airfields 33
    Drainage Systems and Structures for Roads 35
    Base Courses 37
    Construction Requirements for Base Courses 39
    Surfaces 39
    Precautions in Grading Operations 40
    Tie-down Anchors and Markings 41

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    EA-I. US Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    Contents #2

    Buildings 41
    Location and Design 41
    Location Factors 42
    Principles of Foundation Design on Permafrost 43
    Foundation Problems 44
    Surface Foundations 45
    Gravel Mats 46
    Piles 48
    Factors in Building Design 50
    Power and Communication Lines 54
    Construction 54
    General Consideration 54
    Foundation Construction 55
    Water Supply and Distribution 56
    Choice of Site 56
    Development of Source 58
    Storage 60
    Water Treatment or Purification 60
    Distribution Systems 61
    Emergency Water Supply 64
    Sewage 65
    Disposal by Dilution 65
    Pipelines 66
    Sewage-Treatment Plant 66
    Temporary Installations 67
    Bibliography 68

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    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions



            Note: Cuts of the illustrations accompanying this article can

    probably be secured, upon request to the Office, Chief of

    Engineers, Attention: Airfields Branch, Engineering Division.

    Fig. 1. Map showing approximate limits of area mainly underlain

    by permafrost in Northern Hemisphere
    Fig. 2. Typical sections through ground containing permafrost 2-b
    Fig. 3. Formation of a frost blister 8 -a
    Fig. 4. Extensive ice formations in silty soil 8 -b
    Fig. 5. Ice formations in silty soil 8 -b
    Fig. 6. Soil polygons 1 2 -a
    Fig. 7. Low altitude oblique of a shale plateau 1 2 -b
    Fig. 8. View of gullying in the face of the high gravel bluffs

    along the Sagavanirktok River
    1 2 -b
    Fig. 9. Low altitude oblique photo showing the two polygon

    types occurring on low terraces
    1 2 -c
    Fig. 10. Low altitude photo typical of the recent alluvium of

    the Colville River Valley
    1 2 -c
    Fig. 11. Elongated north-south lakes typical of the low portions

    of the Arctic Coastal Plain
    1 2 -d
    (Fig. 12. Large mound (pingok) in the Arctic Coastal Plain 1 2 -d
    Fig. 13. Massive ground ice exposed by the down-cutting action

    of the Sagavanirktok River
    1 2 -e
    Fig. 14. Cross section of one niggerhead plant which has

    been removed
    1 2 -e
    Fig. 15. Frost mound 18-a
    Fig. 16. Reed invasion of a shallow cave-in lake, Ranana Valley 18-a

            NOTE: Refer to letter of March 16, 1950, from District Engineer,

    St. Paul, for further particulars regarding the cuts.

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    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    List of Figures #2

    Fig. 17. View of inner tube of a double-tube core barrel with

    spring finger core retainers
    Fig. 18. Snowdrifts along road 21-a
    Fig. 19. Surface ice resulting from seepage in a sidehill cut 31-a
    Fig. 20. Profile of a permafrost layer near a river 31-a
    Fig. 21. Suggested shape for runway side collection channels 34-a
    Fig. 22. Suggested method of creating an induced field of

    surface ice
    Fig. 23. Induced field of surface ice 35-a
    Fig. 24. Quonset hut damaged by deep snowdrift 35-a
    Fig. 25. Typical design for structure where permafrost is to be

    maintained by proper insulation and ventilation
    Fig. 26. Design for small temporary structure on gravel mat

    with air space
    Fig. 27. Building being constructed on a gravel mat in an area

    where the surface vegetation has been removed
    Fig. 28. Large hangar being constructed on a gravel mat in an

    area where all fine-grained frost-acting soils have

    been removed
    Fig. 29. Typical design for structures where permafrost is to be

    maintained by insulation and ventilation
    Fig. 30. Operational structures at the Northway, Alaska, airfield 50-a
    Fig. 31. Piling driven through 3 feet of active zone 55-a
    Fig. 32. Details of steam and water pipe jest 55-a
    Fig. 33. Approximate shape of thawed gravel (sandy silt soil) after

    steam point has remained in a 14-foot hole about 1½ hours
    Fig. 34. Typical section of utilidor below ground surface 62-a
    Fig. 35. Typical section of permanent-type underground utilidor

    without walkway

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    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    List of Figures #3

    Fig. 36. Typical section of permanent-type underground with

    Fig. 37. Typical section of utilidor above ground surface 64-a
    Fig. 38. Typical section of overground wood stave pipe 64-b
    Fig. 39. Sewer outfall pipe enclosed in wood utilidor 66-a

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    [EA:I. US Army Eng.]






    Purpose and Scope

            This article tries to present the best information now available (1950) on

    techniques of aerial and field reconnaissance, design, construction, and main–

    tenance for successful work in areas where permanently frozen ground exists.

            Construction in arctic and subarctic regions usually requires methods and

    designs quite different from those used in temperate zones, especially on sites

    underlain by permanently frozen ground. Over permanently frozen ground, the

    effects of seasonal freezing and thawing are usually more severe (even in the

    upper layer of ground which is not permanently frozen) than in areas not under–

    lain by such material. Stresses developed in freezing ground may exceed 28,000

    pounds per square inch )( p.s.i.). It is impractical to cope with them by struc–

    tural design alone. Instead, the peculiarities of the region must be accepted

    and usual designs, materials, and construction methods modified accordingly.

    It is necessary to cooperate with nature.



            Regions. Permanently frozen subsurface material, called permafrost, is com–

    mon throughout northern North America and northern Asia (and the Antarctic). It

    is found in considerable areas of Alaska and northern Canada, and also in the

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    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    northern half of the Soviet Union from the Arctic Sea and islands to Mongolia

    Fig. 1 and Manchuria, an area considerably larger than the United States (Fig. 1).

    Altogether, about one-fifth of the land area of the world is underlain by

    varying depths of permafrost. The term “permafrost province” refers to the

    entire arctic and antarctic regions where permafrost is likely to be en–


            Occurrence . Permafrost may be expected in regions where the mean annual

    temperature is below freezing and where the climate has the following charac–

    teristics: (1) long, cold winters; (2) short, dry, and relatively cool summers;

    and (3) small precipitation during all seasons. It is important to realize

    that permafrost can exist in a climate where the mean annual temperature is

    only slightly below freezing. In certain localized areas, permafrost has

    been known to develop when the mean annual temperature is above freezing.

            Existence . Depending on local conditions, permafrost may exist as: (1) a

    Fig. 2 continuous layer (Figs. 2(a) and 2(b)); (2) islands or lenses within unfrozen

    material (Fig. 2(c)); and (3) a discontinuous or broken layer containing

    islands or lenses, or streaks of unfrozen material. Permafrost containing

    horizontal or inclined streaks of unfrozen material is called layered perma–

    frost (Fig. 2(d)).

            Thickness . Where continuous permafrost exists, its thickness varies from

    several feet to more than 900 feet in Alaska. In general, it is thinner near

    the southern boundary of the permafrost province and thicker to the north.

    The maximum known thickness is reported to be about 2,000 feet in the Khatanga

    region of the U.S.S.R. near Nordvik.

    002a      |      Vol_IIA-0061                                                                                                                  

    Figure 2.1. Map showing approximate limits of area mainly underlain by

    permafrost in Northern Hemisphere. Because of local conditions,

    there are areas within these limits not underlain by permanently

    frozen ground.

    002b      |      Vol_IIA-0062                                                                                                                  

    Figure 3.2. Typical sections through ground

    containing Permafrost

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    EA-I. US Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    Permafrost and Related Ground Conditions

            Permafrost Surface . The upper surface of a permafrost layer is some–

    times called the permafrost table. It is irregular in shape and position,

    depending on type, moisture content, and compaction of the soil, insulating

    cover of vegetation, movement of groundwater, exposure to the sun, and similar

    factors. Its position varies from a few inches to many feet below the ground

    surface (Table I). In general, it is lower in sand-gravel soils than in silty,

    clayey, or peaty soils. The upper surface is generally very irregular and

    does not compare to a flat table-like surface.

    Table I. Average Depth of Permafrost Table
    Location Latitude Surface Type of

    S s oil
    Depth in feet

    below ground surface

    to permafrost
    Barrow 71°18′ Moss Loamy Sand
    Fairbanks 64°50′ Moss Silt 3-6
    Kotzebue 66°52′ Moss Peat, sand, and gravel
    Nome 64°30′ Moss and peat Loam and sandy loam 3-4
    Wales 65°37′ Stripped Sand
    Northway 62°58′ Moss and peat Fine silty sand 3-5
    U.S.S.R. ( Sandy 9-12
    S. of 55° ( Clayey 5.5 - 7.5
    ( Peaty 2-3
    ( Sandy 6 - 7.5
    S. of 62° ( Clayey 4.5 - 6
    ( Peaty 1.5±
    ( Sandy 3.5 - 5
    N. of 70° ( Clayey 2-3
    ( Peaty 0.5 - 1

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    EA-I. US Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            The active zone (Fig. 2) is the layer of ground above the upper surface of

    the permafrost layer.

            The frost zone (Fig. 2) is the top layer of ground subject to seasonal

    freezing and thawing. In the more northern latitudes where the climate is

    severe and seasonal freezing penetrates to permafrost, the frost zone and active

    zone are identical.


    Thermal Regime

            The thermal regime is an equilibrium established by nature where areas

    underlain by permafrost are undisturbed by ground surface changes or too many

    variations from normal seasonal temperatures. The principle upon which this

    balance is maintained, and the permafrost layer preserved, is that of heat passing

    from a warm body to a cold body, thus tending to even the temperatures of each.

    The permafrost is underlain by warm unfrozen soil, which constantly threatens

    to melt the permafrost. However, in late winter, the frozen ground of the active

    zone is colder than the permafrost with its accumulated heat fro und m the ground

    below it. Some heat from the permafrost then passes into the active zone. The

    heat ceases to pass upward when the summer thaw warms the active zone. The

    permafrost thus remains in balance, nether aggrading nor degrading. Customary

    building practices destroy the thermal regime and cause degradation of perma–

    frost by raising the mean annual temperature at the ground surface beneath the

    building or other installation. Removing vegetative cover in stripping, making

    cu st ts and fills, or changing the flow of groundwater by subdrainage disturbs

    the thermal regime. The active zone temperatures in late winter are then lower

    and the summer thaw earlier and deeper. The upper surface of the permafrost

    is lowered, although the permafrost layer is usually increased in thickness.

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    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    Nature must establish a new equilibrium, a process which ordinarily takes many

    years. During such adjustments in the thermal regime, surprising actions may

    occur, such as surface icing, frost heaving, frost boils, and caving. To

    avoid disastrous results in construction at a site over permafrost, it is

    necessary to study all the factors in balance. Construction must be designed

    either to preserve this balance or to create a new balance so that the poten–

    tially destructive actions are controlled.



            Groundwater is water within the earth. It may exist above, within, or be–

    low the permafrost layer, depending on geologic and physiographic features,

    climate, and seasonal weather variations. Since it may thaw permafrost, it is

    an important factor to consider.

            Source . Groundwater comes from surface water, such as rain, melting snow,

    and ice, or from upward movement of subterranean sources within or below the

    permafrost. Within the permafrost, water is supplied either by infilt r ation of

    surface water, sometimes from a considerable distance away, or from groundwater

    below the permafrost. Water below the permafrost layer is the result of seepage

    from higher levels. It is commonly found under large valleys filled with deposits

    of alluvium, consisting of water-lain silt, sand, and gravel. Water within or

    below the permafrost layer often occurs in sufficient quantities to furnish a

    year-round supply for large installations and is often under hydrostatic pressure.

            Behavior of Groundwater . [ ?] Warm Seasons: When the active (or frost) zone is

    unfrozen, groundwater above the permafrost layer behaves like any groundwater above

    an impervious stratum. In fine-grained peaty soils, as is found in portions of

    Alaska, the movement of groundwater above the permafrost is extremely slow.

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    EA-I. U.S. Army: Eng. Problems in Permafrost Regions

            Cold Seasons: When seasonal freezing begins, the top surface of the active

    zone, if near or at saturation, becomes impervious. This confines the ground–

    water and often puts it under pressure. As pressure increases, the g r oundwater

    seeks escape at planes of weakness. Often it is forced up through cracks,

    joints, or weak spots to the surface, where it spreads and freezes into fields

    of surface ice. This action is especially found in hilly, terraced, and rolling

    terrain. These ice fields grow as long as water is forced to the surface to

    feed them. Sometimes, however, the confined water works into planes of weakness

    within the active zone, where it accumulates and freezes into layers (lenses)

    of ice.

            Effects on Construction . Groundwater sometimes finds its way under spread

    footings, posts, and foundation walls. If the bottoms of these supports are

    within the frost zone, seasonal freezing may cause ice to accumulate under them

    and lift them. Then when the seasonal thaw reaches the bottoms of the supports,

    the ice melts and saturates the surrounding soils. In fine-grained soils, this

    thawing reduces supporting capacity. Foundations then often settle, not only the

    distance they were raised, but an additional amount, because of displacement of

    the softened soil. The amount of settling depends on gradation and density of soil.

            Heat carried by moving groundwater can also cause surprising disturbances.

    It often gradually alters the upper surface of the permafrost layer as it moves

    along. Where moving groundwater meets a foundation wall or pile extending into

    the permafrost, it may seep down along the structure, breaking the grip needed for

    support and softening the ground so that settlement occurs.

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    Surface Water

            During the spring, surface water, including thaw water from melted snow and

    ice in the upper part of the active zone, is prevented from escaping downward by

    the frozen material below. This accounts for the abundance of surface water found

    in the early thawing period. Large rivers and lakes, especially those that do not

    freeze solid in the winter, have a marked warming effect. As a result, the [ ?]

    ground beneath them often remains unfrozen and contains freely percolating water.

            Shallow, sluggish streams usually freeze earlier than deeper, faster-flowing

    streams. Anchor ice may form on the bottom of a stream before surface ice forms.

            As a river freezes, the channel under the ice gradually diminishes and some–

    times becomes too small for the amount of water to be carried. This puts the

    flowing water under pressure, and forces it to swell or break the surface ice or

    to seep through the alluvium at the sides of the stream. In certain instances,

    where the river channel is restricted by bridge abutments and piers, the water

    breaks through the surface ice, freezes and builds up to heights of from 10 to

    20 feet above the surface, generally upstream from the bridge. During spring

    thaw periods, the downstream movement of this heavy mass of ice often causes

    considerable damage to the structure. Sometimes the gradually increasing pres–

    sure may cause the water to break through the ground some distance from the river

    channel. When this happens, the field of surface ice created may cover several

    square miles to a thickness of several feet, or it may form a large ice f m ound.

    If such an ice field or mound develops near a runway or road, the use of the in–

    stallation is jeopardized. Mounds are usually seasonal, but in some cases last

    for several years. They usually occur in the deltas and lower reaches of large


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    Ground Action During Freezing and Thawing

            The actions of moist ground such as swelling, settling, sliding, and crack–

    ing during the annual temperature variations through the freezing and thawing

    points depend on several factors, some of which are: ( 1 ) water content; ( 2 ) soil

    type; ( 3 ) soil density; ( 4 ) heat conductivity of the soil; ( 5 ) slopes of ground

    and water tables; ( 6 ) rate of change of ground temperature; ( 7 ) depth and slope

    of the upper surface of the permafrost layer; and ( 8 ) permeability of the perma–

    frost layer.

            Swelling or “ frost heave ” is caused by one or more of the following actions:

            ( 1 ) Water pressure. Frost blisters are the result of localized hydrostatic

    water pressure built up between the surface of the permafrost layer and the

    frozen crust of the active zone. They usually occur in areas of slopi n g or rolling

    Fig. 3 ground where the groundwater table is inclined (see Fig. 3).

            ( 2 ) Increas e in volume when water is converted to ice. Water expands about

    9 per cent in volume when it freezes. This amount of swelling is unimportant un–

    less the water content of the soil is relatively high. The most extensive

    swelling occurs where groundwater accumulates in one location and freezes in under–

    ground layers known as ice lenses. This action is known as frost heaving. It

    can also occur as a result of water freezing while in a state of capillary saturation

    within the voids of fine-grained soils. Loose silty soils and very [?] fine

    sands, where capillary water action is most prevalent, are most likely to develop

    Fgs. 4, 5 extensive ice layers. (Figs. 4 and 5). Coarse-grained sands and gravels are

    usually not affected. Loose clay soils act like silts, but where they are well

    consolidated and free of cracks, they are relatively unaffected because they are

    almost impervious to groundwater movements.

    008b      |      Vol_IIA-0069                                                                                                                  

    Figure 4. Extensive ice formations in silty soil.

    Figure 5. Ice formations in silty soil. Note their

    irregular surface and variable depth and thickness.

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    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            ( 3 ) Force of crystallization of ice. In layered fine-grained deposits,

    water freezing in large voids draws unfrozen water from capillaries. This

    water is continually added to the growing crystals of ice. The volume of ice

    continues to grow as long as there is a supply of water.

            Settling and Caving . When a soil in a high state of capillary saturation

    freezes, the soil grains are separated by the force of expansion. This results

    in a soil of reduced density and bearing value. After a thaw, it becomes a

    soft, mucky substance of extremely low supporting capacity. Caving occurs where

    layers or lenses of ground ice melt and the ground above them settles into the


            Creeping and Sliding . Destructive creeping and sliding of sloping ground

    surface is common in the permafrost regions. Ice crystallization forces and ice

    lenses raise the soil materials at each season of frost. The material settles

    again during the spring and summer thaw, creeping and sliding in the downward

    direction of the surface slope. These horizontal movements of the upper layer

    are most pronounced on sides of hills facing direct sunlight, where the depth

    of the active zone is greatest.

            Shrinking and Cracking . Temperatures below freezing cause contraction crack–

    ing in all wet frozen soils. In soils with little moisture content, contraction

    occurs with the lowering of the soil temperature. If the soil is initially

    impervious to water movements, the resulting cracking permits water movement.

    This causes ice crystallization, ice lenses, frost boils, heaves, and surface ice.


    Strength of Frozen Ground

            Bearing Capacity. The load capacity of dry-frozen ground is at least equal to

    its capacity when thawed. Its capacity can be determined by [ ?] bearing tests or

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    estimated by assigning to it the capacity given to the same type soil in the

    temperate zone. The load capacity of frozen soil with a high moisture content

    approaches and often surpasses that of ice. Like ice, the strength of wet-frozen

    ground decreases rapidly as its temperature rises toward the melting point. Be–

    cause of reduced de s nsity, the strength of fine-grained soil decreases with repeated s ✓

    freezing and thawing.

            Adfreezing force refers to the grip of frozen ground on a pile or foundation

    wall. To pull a pile out of frozen ground, the adfreezing force must be over–

    come. Piles, posts, footings, and beams placed in the active zone are lifted as

    the active zone swells during freezing, if the total adfreezing force is greater

    than the load on the pile or post. On the other hand, if piles are placed suffi–

    ciently deep into permafrost, the adfreezing force developed in the permafrost

    will anchor them against uplift caused by adfreezing and heaving in the active zone.



            Because of the unusual and difficult restrictions imposed on construction by

    permafrost, reconnaissance must be thorough. Adequate data on flying conditions,

    weather, drainage, soils, availability of construction materials, water supply,

    and transportation must be obtained, since they are rarely available beforehand.

    In selecting a site, factors favorable to operation must often be weighed against

    those favorable to construction. Prior to field reconnaissance, a careful review

    of all existing air photographs should be made. Those pertaining to the proposed

    locations, if available, should be studied in detail. If not available, it may

    be desirable to have them taken. Advantage should be taken of any information

    relative to the peculiarities of the region that can be obtained from local

    organizations, engineers, or technicians.

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    Preliminary Investigations

            Aerial photographs are of tremendous value in the preliminary investigation of

    an area because of the great amount of information that they contain. If aerial

    photographs of the area to be investigated are not available, they should be ob–

    tained so that studies may be made of possible construction sites, and to locate

    construction materials. In using aerial photographs for evaluating soil condi–

    tions, it is of importance to note that the photograph records the results of

    natural processes in the development of residual soils and in the occurrence of

    transported soils. Thus the configuration of drainage lines, vegetation, land

    form, color tones, etc., produce a pattern on the air photograph which can be

    correlated with actual ground conditions. Repeated field checks have shown that

    similar patterns in aerial photographs indicate similar materials. Thus, air

    photos can be used to identify soil and rock textures, to bound areas of similar

    materials, to select better construction sites, and to identify and locate

    materials for engineering construction. The procedures followed in identifying

    patterns are relatively simple and straightforward.

            After the aerial photographs have been processed, they are studied by a

    trained observer. He will find patterns, particularly in new and unexplored

    regions, with which he is unfamiliar, or which he will wish to check in the field.

    This is accomplished by studying soil exposures or observing drill-hole records

    to determ o i ne the materials that develop the specific air photo pattern in question.

    He will pay particular attention to such items as types of vegetation, erosional

    features, various topographic expressions, and the range in soil and rock textures

    within the limits of the photograph. After all the detailed patterns have been

    worked out in the field and the soil transportation and soil profile development

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    processes have been studied of the region in question, the observer can be certain

    that similar patterns on aerial photographs taken from other regions will yield

    similar materials and similar engineering situations. For successful use of

    aerial photographs for soil interpretation purposes, it is important that the

    observer be familiar with geologic and pedologic processes. Obviously he should

    familiarize himself with all of the available literature of the region in question.

    It will be found that there are limitations to the use of aerial photographs in

    soils work. There is an optimum photographic scale which should be obtained

    and stereopairs of air photos are indispensable. Weather conditions and the time

    of the flight will have marked influence on the photo pattern obtained because

    of vegetation color variations. A dense forest cover will present some difficulty

    to the interpreter since [ ?] much of the soil pattern is obliterated. Frequently

    it becomes necessary for the interpreter to use inference in developing informa–

    tion on the subsurface conditions of soils. This is particularly true in arctic

    and subsurface regions. In a relatively undeveloped region, such as in Alaska,

    aerial photographs can be used to great advantage — particularly since the

    Territory is not adequately mapped — for military or civilian use in locating

    airports, highways, railroads, bases, etc. when it is known that some engineer–

    ing structure is to be built in a particular region, the air photos of the

    region should be studied and, in a few hours’ time, a general engineering soil

    map can be produced which will show [ ?] the good, poor, and intermediate soil

    areas evaluated on the basis of anticipated performance of engineering structures.

    Thus the poor soil areas can be eliminated almost entirely by study of the aerial

    photographs and the field investigation can be concentrated on those areas best

    Figs. 6-13 suited to construction. Figures 6. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 are typical aerial

    photographic views of characteristic Alaskan formation.

    012a      |      Vol_IIA-0074                                                                                                                  

    Figure 6. Soil Polygons

    012b      |      Vol_IIA-0075                                                                                                                  

    Figure 7. Low Altitude Oblique of a Shale Plateau

    Showing Monotonously Repetitive Relief

    Figure 8. View of Gullying in the Face of the High

    Gravel Bluffs Along the Sagavanirktok River

    012c      |      Vol_IIA-0076                                                                                                                  

    Figure 9. Low Altitude Oblique Photo Showing the Two

    Polygon Types Occurring on Low Terraces

    Figure 10. Low Altitude Photo Typical of the Recent Alluvium

    of the Colville River Valley. Indicating Approximately

    Three Feet of Frozen Peat and Silt on Gravel.

    012d      |      Vol_IIA-0077                                                                                                                  

    Figure 11. Elongated North-South Lakes Typical of the

    Low Portions of the Arctic Coastal Plain.

    Figure 12. Large Mound (Pingok) in the Arctic Coastal Plain.

    012e      |      Vol_IIA-0078                                                                                                                  

    Figure 13. Massive Ground Ice Exposed by the Down–

    cutting Action of the Sagavanirktok River.

    Figure 14. Cross section of one niggerhead plant which

    has been removed. This constitutes the major

    portion of tundra-type vegetation.

    013      |      Vol_IIA-0079                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            Field Investigation . After tentative sites have been selected from aerial

    photographs, the field investigation shall be accomplished in the following


            1. Time Schedule. Site reconnaissance is generally more practicable when

    the ground is free of snow and sufficiently stable to permit travel by small

    vehicles or on foot. In locations where the ground is dry and firm, summer

    seasons are the best. The late fall season is best where the terrain is swampy,

    and is the only time in which the depth to the upper surface of the permafrost

    layer can be accurately measured.

            2. Personnel. The reconnaissance party should include the best-qualified

    surveyors, soils mechanics, engineers, and experienced field men available. Failures

    in site selection are costly to all subsequent construction and field operations.

    Local guides, resident engineers, and geologists should be consulted and their

    knowledge of the terrain, weather, and local construction materials exploited to

    the maximum.

            3. Procedure. In all instances, the final exploration of the site must be

    made on the ground. Under certain conditions, prevailing in temperate zones,

    geophysical explorations have been applied with some success. However, similar

    explorations in the permafrost [ ?] province have not been equally satisfactory and

    test holes are recommended for subsurface explorations.

            4. Transportation. Special transportation equipment necessary for recon–

    naissance may include float and ski planes, helicopters, “weasels,” tractors,

    tractor trains, dog teams, skis, and snowshoes. Tractors should be equipped with

    dozer blades for clearing paths, winches, and special demountable flotation devices

    for soft ground traction.

    014      |      Vol_IIA-0080                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    They should be waterproofed for fording streams. If properly maintained, the

    “weasel” (M-29C cargo carrier) is the best vehicle for field reconnaissance.

    In remote regions, it may be necessary to use dog teams or to walk.

            5. Exploration Equipment. Because subsurface explorations are so important

    in permafrost areas, it is necessary to use the best available equipment for

    sounding, probing, digging, or drilling into the ground, as well as men fully

    experienced in this work. If remote sites prevent the transportation of standard

    drilling equipment, the use of smaller demountable air-borne rigs is suggested.

    In many types of frozen soils, the expert use of shaped charges (explosives)

    may suffice as an expedient.


    Construction Factors in Site Selection

            The following factors are of major importance in selecting a site in the


            Surface and Groundwater . In permafrost regions, the surface and groundwater

    should be studied thoroughly with respect to quantities, direction of flow, rate

    of movement, and source. Most arctic and subarctic streams fluctuate a great

    deal during the year and from year to year. The source of all streams should be

    investigated and local evidence of floating ice or other high-water [ ?] marks

    noted to estimate flood stage. Large quantities of water from rains and thawing

    snow filter into the ground through the porous surface material and become

    groundwater. In some instances, groundwater that has infiltrated from an adjacent

    stream may be found in a gravel stratum.

            Soil Characteristics . The depth of foundations and the thickness of base

    courses depend on the soil quality at the site. Wherever possible, sites with

    granular soils, preferably clean, coarse sand and gravel should be chosen. Ground

    015      |      Vol_IIA-0081                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    movement due to frost action is unlikely in these types of soil. Therefore,

    foundations need not be as deep or base courses as thick. Frost action in fine–

    grained soils is generally the major cause of construction and maintenance


            Transportation . Transportation facilities are limited and extremely un–

    reliable in arctic regions. During reconnaissance, compare the accessibility of

    various sites and estimate the transportation requirements of each. The effect

    of weather on transportation must be considered as discussed below.

            Topography . A site with favorable topography is one located on high, well–

    drained ground which has a reasonably smooth surface requiring a minimum of grad–

    ing. Cuts should be avoided in permafrost area; this should also be considered

    in choosing sites in rough terrain. However, where the choice is between grad–

    ing a rough but well-drained site and providing drainage for a level one with

    large quantities of groundwater, the well-drained site should be selected for run–

    ways and structures of a permanent type. On the other hand, there may be occa–

    sions in winter when temporary and hasty construction can be accomplished only

    by using a level sits, since no grading can be accomplished while the ground is

    frozen to appreciable depths.

            Availability of Local Materials . Large quantities of materials are required

    for arctic construction, since the majority of construction is accomplished by

    fills rather than the temperate-zone method of balancing cuts and fills. These

    include base-course materials, fill materials, aggregates for pavements, and

    materials required in building construction. During reconnaissance, explore

    material sites to determine where adequate quantities of satisfactory quality can

    be found.

    016      |      Vol_IIA-0082                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            Weather Conditions . Temperature (Table II), humidity, wind, rain, and

    snow affect man’s ability to travel, move supplies and equipment, and work in

    the field without protective shelter. Since construction must often be accom–

    plished regardless of the season, weather conditions must be appreciated and

    considered by the planners as well as the executors of any arctic operation or

    project. Three significant facts relate to the problem of weather. These are:

            ( 1 ) Supplies can normally be moved overland only in winter or by water only

    in late summer.

            ( 2 ) Supply of materials and equipment to an isolated arctic or subarctic

    location must usually be planned 6 to 12 months in advance, and the plan executed

    as many as 3 months prior to actual need.

            ( 3 ) By the end of the winter freeze, the frozen condition of the active

    zone eliminates all possibility of earth-moving projects, except where the ground

    contains no moisture (dry-frozen). Men should then be placed on other construc–

    tion duties.

    Table II. Outdoor Working Efficiency of Suitably Clothed Men at Various Temperatures.
    Temperature. °F. Percentage of efficiency
    70 100
    20 75
    0 50
    -23 25
    -40 14 Point where arctic natives

    normally become inactive.
    -50 10 Point where man can no longer

    perform outdoor mechanical

    work but must spend practically

    all of his energy to survive.
    -80 0

    017      |      Vol_IIA-0083                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    Investigating Surface and Subsurface Conditions

            The detailed field reconnaissance should cover material in the active zone,

    depth to permafrost, groundwater, water supply, soil classifications, ground ice,

    fields of surface ice, and availability of construction materials.

            A sketch map of the site is used as a work sheet in the field. It may be pre–

    pared from existing maps, from aerial photographs, or from rough field measurements.

    On it are recorded locations of test holes, important terrain features, and areas

    giving evidence of fields of surface ice, snowslides, swelling, creeping, or

    seepage. Separate sketch maps are used to record data on subsurface conditions.


    Clues to Permafrost, Soils, and Groundwater

            During aerial and preliminary ground reconnaissance, the following easily

    recognized features are valuable clues to permafrost, soil, and drainage problems.


            1. Thick moss and niggerheads, muskegs, and hummocky surface in treeless

    areas indicate a water-bearing zone above a high permafrost layer and very poor

    Fig. 14 drainage. This may also be true on terraced terrain (Fig. 14).

            2. Aspen is usually found on dry, unfrozen, south-facing slopes.

            3. White spruce and paper birch forests grow on unfrozen soils and on

    soils where the permafrost is 30 inches or more below the surface.

            4. Black spruce and tamarack stands grow on muskegs of moss-covered, water–

    logged peat stratified with silt. Permafrost exists at a depth of about 18 inches.

            5. Balsam poplar stands are confined to sites adjacent to active streams

    having moist, sandy soils unfrozen to a depth of at least 10 feet.

            6. Willows. In the Tanana-Yukon valleys, pure dense willow stands grow

    on bare river bars which are unfrozen to a depth of 10 feet or more. On the

    018      |      Vol_IIA-0084                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    Arctic Coastal Plain, Seward Peninsula, and the delta areas of the Yukon,

    Kobuk, and Kuskokwim rivers, the willow is confined to the major water courses,

    usually on a coarse-grained soil with permafrost at a depth of about 30 inches.

    Stunted willows occur in the tundra regions with permafrost at a depth of 1 to

    2 feet.

            7. Jack pine is one of the best indicators to the location of well–

    drained gravel ridges in the Arctic. Therefore, it may be used to locate sources

    of sand and gravel for fill material or aggregates.

            8. Alder grows on very wet, deep peat or clayey peat soils with perma–

    frost at a depth of 15 to 20 inches.

            9. Cotton grass (Alaska cotton) is evidence of poorly drained ground.

            10. Groups of irregularly inclined trees (“drunken forests”) normally

    indicate the presence of frost mounds, strongly swelling ground, or creeping

    Fig. 15 ground (see Fig. 15) . Inclined trees are also found along the edges of streams and cave-in (Insert "Fig. 15" here, although the reference is missing on original

    lakes; this is due to the action of water melting the underlying permafrost

    Fig. 16 (see Fig. 16).

            Ground Surface Markings.

            1. Polygonal surface markings are found in areas affected by frost

    action. They generally indicate saturated silts and fine-grained soils with

    permafrost at a depth of 12 to 24 inches. Polygons, prevalent south of the

    Brooks Range, generally have raised centers with depressed perimeters containing

    ice wedges. The ice wedges may thaw to a depth of 30 inches in the summer.

    North of the Brooks Range, in the Arctic, raised center polygons are generally

    found in low, flat, wet areas. The ice center melts to a depth of 24 to 36

    inches in the summer. The perimeter of peat and moss is generally about 12

    018a      |      Vol_IIA-0085                                                                                                                  

    Figure 15. Frost Mound: Note group of irregularly inclined

    trees (drunken forest) caused by swelling ground.

    Figure 16. Reed invasion of a shallow cave-in lake,

    Tanana Valley.

    019      |      Vol_IIA-0086                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    inches above the elevation of the ice or water surface. Polygons vary in size

    from 20 to 200 feet across the center. Polygons indicate definitely undesir–

    able building areas (see Fig. 6).

            2. Springs and icing areas are direct evidence of the presence of ground–


            3. Soil flow or creep is evidence of wetted slip planes within the

    ground. The presence of permafrost may be suspected in such areas since slid–

    ing and creeping often occur on the permafrost surface.

            4. Exposed sand, gravel, and fissured or porous rock on hills adjacent

    to lowlands are an excellent intake for surface water and indicate the possi–

    bility of groundwater in the lowlands.

            5. Flood plains near the edges of rivers and lakes ordinarily have

    large layers of unfrozen material containing groundwater and fine-grained materials.

    In some instances, they may serve as sand and gravel sources, but generally are

    poor construction sites because of the danger of flooding and because fields of

    surface ice frequently form when the river water and the groundwater become con–

    fined by winter freezing.

            6. Where surface conditions are uniform, unconfined groundwater above

    the permafrost generally flows in the direction of the surface slope.

            7. The depth of the water table usually varies with the relief of the

    ground. Ridge tops are likely to be better drained and less likely to have frost

    mounds and fields of surface ice than flat, low regions. Terraces along river

    valleys generally indicate coarse-grained soils, such as sands and gravels, which

    are excellent for construction purposes. Absence of a drainage pattern on the

    020      |      Vol_IIA-0087                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    terrace plus short steep gullies on the terrace slopes indicate s coarse-grained


            8. Spring and resultant seepage or fields of surface ice most commonly

    occur at or adjacent to a break in slope. Typical examples are foot of terrace

    scarps, hills, or mountains; river banks; gully walls; and edges of valley


            9. Slopes facing the sun tend to have thicker active layers above the

    permafrost, with the possibility of large quantities of unconfined groundwater.

    Shaded slopes ordinarily have a shallower active zone.

            Geology . Coarse permeable soils, particularly clean sand and gravel, ordi–

    narily have a low permafrost layer. They readily transmit groundwater. Ground

    movement due to frost action is unlikely in this type soil. Fine-grained soils

    ordinarily have high permafrost layers and poor drainage.

            Seepage and fields of surface ice may occur near outcrops of pervious and

    fractured rock formations. Contact between soil and rock is important because

    groundwater commonly flows along this contact plane. It forms springs where the

    plane is exposed in cuts, terrace scarps, and bluffs.


    Test Holes

            Methods . During the site investigation, enough test holes must be drilled,

    dug, or blasted to supply the information necessary to assure correct site

    selection, practicable design, and a reliable estimate of the materials, time,

    labor, and equipment required to do the job. In unfrozen soil, test pits will

    permit accurate information to be obtained on density and moisture content to

    limited depths. Core drills, employing toothed cutters on double-tube core

    021      |      Vol_IIA-0088                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Prob mes lems in Permafrost Regions

    barrels and spring finger core retainers, will recover frozen core samples in

    Fig. 17 frozen sands and fine-grained materials (see Fig. 17). Frozen soil containing

    conglomerates or igneous rock cannot be cored without special bits. Test pits

    and core borings provide the most accurate information. Prob l ing from the bottom

    of test pits produces more data without much extra work. Drive tubes can be used

    in unfrozen cohesive soils for fairly accurate determination of density. Hand

    augers recover disturbed samples at depths up to about 20 feet in some fine–

    grained thawed materials for general classification and moisture tests. Churn

    drills recover greatly disturbed samples from relatively great depths by the

    wash boring method. They are effective in gravel and sand. Experienced opera–

    tors and [ ?] inspectors using these methods quickly accomplish preliminary ex–

    ploration of a site. For design purposes, test pits and core borings are needed

    to supplement wash borings. Subsurface explorations should provide for ground–

    temperature data well below the depths of seasonal frost, using thermocouples,

    resistance thermometers, or thermometers.

            Spacing . In deciding on the location and number of borings and test pits

    required, the soils and permafrost data obtained from the aerial photographic

    and field reconnaissance should be carefully studied. Test holes should be spaced

    not more than 1,000 feet apart over the areas studied and the distance between

    holes should be greatly decreased if non-uniform soil conditions are found. Ad–

    ditional test holes should be located at sites of heavy structures, pits, quarries

    for building materials, and at the following places on or adjacent to proposed

    construction areas: ( 1 ) slopes with different exposures; ( 2 ) breaks of slopes;

    ( 3 ) areas with differences in soil, vegetation, and minor features; ( 4 ) areas to

    be excavated; ( 5 ) areas to be covered by embankments; ( 6 ) swampy hollows and

    021a      |      Vol_IIA-0089                                                                                                                  

    Figure 17. View of inner tube of a double-tube core barrel with

    spring finger core retainers which was successfully

    used to recover undisturbed frozen sand and fine-grained

    soils samples in arctic and subarctic regions.

    Figure 18. Snowdrifts along road.

    022      |      Vol_IIA-0090                                                                                                                  
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    depressions; ( 7 ) sites of springs and fields of surface ice; ( 8 ) cave-in lakes;

    ( 9 ) near landslides and slumps; ( 10 ) areas of ground ice; ( 11 ) along gullies

    and canyons; and ( 12 ) near lakes and rives.

            Depth . The depth of test holes depends not only on soil conditions but on

    the amount of ground-temperature change which the structure will cause on comple–

    tion. The removal of natural vegetation in connection with construction can

    be expected to increase the depth of thaw in areas where runways are placed,

    thus lowering the upper surface of the permafrost. This change depends on the

    amount of vegetation removed and the type of subsoil. Similarly, a large hangar

    heated to 70° F. throughout a number of years might reduce the upper surface

    of the permafrost layer to a depth in excess of 50 ft. Experience has shown

    that test holes should be made to the following depths: runways, 20 to 25 ft.;

    small buildings, 25 to 35 ft.; large structures, 50 to 100 ft.

            Logs of Holes . The log of each test hole should include:

            1. Accurate location and elevation of top of hole.

            2. Classification and thickness of each soil type encountered. Save

    typical soil samples for more complete examination in the laboratory.

            3. Moisture content in per cent of dry weight of soil for each sample.

    Moisture content includes both water and ice. Make separate determinations of

    soil samples from the active zone and from the permafrost.

            4. An estimate of the compaction of each soil sample. If undisturbed

    samples can be obtained, as in dug test pits or by core drilling, the density is


            5. Thickness and position of ice formations. Give top and bottom

    elevations of each formation.

    023      |      Vol_IIA-0091                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            6. Data on groundwater. Note the depth at which groundwater is first

    encountered. Leave holes open as long as practicable for periodic inspection.

    If free water sands in the hole, note its elevation especially if it rises.

    Temperatures of groundwater may indicate the probable source and should be re–


            7. Thickness and position of all layers of frozen ground. Give top

    and bottom elevations.

            8. Elevation of surface of the permafrost layer. This elevation can

    best be determined in the fall. If the seasonal frost has penetrated to the

    permafrost surface, it is difficult to determine the upper surface elevation

    of the permafrost layer. In undisturbed areas, the permafrost surface can often

    be estimated in test pits by observing the maximum penetration of the live root



    Sketch Maps and Profiles of Soil, Groundwater, and Permafrost

            Data from test holes are used to plot sketch maps, showing subsurface soil

    and ice conditions, groundwater, and approximate contours of the surface of the

    permafrost layer. Slopes and contours of the permafrost layer often differ

    markedly from the ground surface. Observed movement of groundwater and ground–

    water gradients should be checked with the general slope of the upper surface

    of the permafrost layer. This detailed study may give a clue to the origin of

    the groun dwater, which can then be checked by careful ground observations up–

    grade from the site.

    024      |      Vol_IIA-0092                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    Reconnaissance Report

            The reconnaissance information for each ten tative site is analyzed, and

    the site is selected which can best be adapted to the required facilities with

    the minimum alteration of natural conditions. The data should include infor–

    mation on means of transportation, seasons of delivery, special equipment

    and its processing for shipment, camp facilities, and clothing. It should also

    include a brief history of the area with information on villages and settle–

    ments, reliable guides, natural construction materials, equipment and material

    available from commercial operations of mining or petroleum companies, clima–

    tological data including freeze-up and break-up dates, and data on the occur–

    rence, frequency, and magnitude of earthquakes, and the presence of volcanoes.






    Advance Preparations

            Gathering All Available Information . All information collected before and

    during the site reconnaissance should be assembled, including the approved

    reconnaissance report, photographs, sketch maps, soil profiles, and logs of test


            Inspecting Site . Wherever possible, the engineer-in-charge should personally

    review the selected site well in advance to study at first hand the difficulties

    to be overcome. This will permit the formulation of practical plans for timing

    the major operations of moving to the site, establishing and supplying the or–

    ganization, and determining the initial operations to be conducted.

    025      |      Vol_IIA-0093                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            Supplies and Special Equipment . Because supply to remote arctic and sub–

    arctic sites is difficult, it is important to select proper organic and special

    transportation and construction equipment. In general, first priority is given

    to heavy construction equipment such as track-type tractors of the D-7, D-8, or

    D-12 class, power scrapers, 4-ton dump trucks, 3/4 cubic yard or larger shovels,

    and large rooters. Soil stabilization equipment is given second priority in the

    early stages. Steam-generating equipment, steam jets, and drilling machinery

    are required. All motorized equipment should have winches. Demountable grousers

    or other special traction devices and double-ender sleds are necessary in arctic

    terrain. Provision should be made for adapting construction equipment or secur–

    ing additional equipment for fire protection. Winterizing and waterproofing

    kits and an ample supply of parts are necessary for all vehicles and equipment.

            In addition to the above construction equipment, consideration should be

    given to the following: several small portable steam boilers, with points and

    hose for thawing frozen ground; winter tractor-train freighting equipment

    including heavy-duty sleighs. Gasoline or oil-burning airplane-type engine

    heaters are essential for starting all types of motorized equipment in weather

    below 0°F. Sufficient replacement units will increase unit efficiency by 25

    to 50 per cent if forced to operate in subzero temperatures. Housing of main–

    tenance shops is a prime essential to keep equipment functioning in arctic and

    subarctic construction operations. All equipment must be thoroughly inspected

    prior to shipment. If faulty equipment is not recognized until it arrives at

    the site, scarce equipment must be cannibalized, with resultant loss to facili–

    ties and efficiency. All personnel must be clothed and equipped for arctic


    026      |      Vol_IIA-0094                                                                                                                  
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            Plans for Moving to Site . Plans for moving to the site must be based on

    first-hand knowledge of the terrain or the advice of experienced guides. A

    pioneer road with fords or bridges may be required. In some cases, a pioneer

    overland party can precede the unit and prepare a temporary landing strip for

    air transport of supplies and equipment. Generally, it is more practicable

    to move overland and set up the construction camp while the ground and [ ?]

    rivers are frozen. If water transportation is possible, it should be considered.

    In any movement, vital supplies must be transported with the men. Every pre–

    caution must be taken to see that men and supplies are not separated.

            Housing and Shelter . To maintain morale and efficiency in arctic and sub–

    arctic climates, it is especially important to provide warm shelters for use as

    living quarters, mass halls, latrines, laundry, and recreational facilities,

    and for equipment and vehicle maintenance. Electrical batteries, water storage,

    and certain fire-fighting supplies must also be protected from freezing tempera–

    tures. Cold storage for certain foods can be effected by using properly constructed

    earth dugouts, placed in permafrost. Metal-framed prefabricated-type barracks

    have been found to be the most economical and satisfactory. Living conditions

    can be improved by designing and locating barracks, so that they are amply

    lighted and exposed to the sun. Housing layouts should be as compact as per–

    missible [ ?] under existing security and fire protection requirements.

            Surveys . Detailed layout and design of an airfield require survey informa–

    tion not usually provided by the reconnaissance report. In the permafrost province,

    more thorough subsurface exploration is necessary than in other regions. Equip–

    ment for boring holes and thawing ground is a necessity. Surveys are started as

    027      |      Vol_IIA-0095                                                                                                                  
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    soon as possible so required data will be ready well in advance of construc–

    tion. Where practicable, survey parties should be among the first sent to the


            Plans for Maintenance . Maintenance in permafrost regions is a difficult

    task and in many instances must begin before construction is completed. Equip–

    ment and personnel needed must be considered in the planning stage and provided

    for in ample time. Special items required for maintenance may include heavy

    earth-moving equipment, snow-removal and compaction units, sand spreaders,

    steam generators, asphalt [ ?] kettles, and small bituminous mixers.


    Stage Construction

            The extremes of weather, the varying surface and subsurface conditions,

    and the fact that in some cases supplies can be delivered to certain locations

    only at certain seasons greatly affect construction planning. A unit may be

    required to move to a site at any season of the year to provide a usable

    installation within a specified time. Because certain phases of work cannot

    be done during the winter and others can be done then only with great difficulty,

    it may be necessary in the first stage to prepare only temporary structures,

    landing strips, etc., for emergency use, leaving the other stage of construc–

    tion for more favorable weather. One feasible plan is as follows:

            Winter Season . 1. Overland tractor-train operations for movement of sup–

    plies and certain construction equipment.

            2. Movement of mobilized heavy equipment and vehic a les.

            3. Construction of snow and ice air strips large enough for air supply lifts.

            4. Erection of portable-type prefabricated shelters for personnel and


    028      |      Vol_IIA-0096                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            5. Establishment of wire and radio communications.

            6. Begin compilation of snow, ice fog, wind, and other meteorological data.

            7. Removal of snow and vegetation over areas where it is determined neces–

    sary or advisable for a deep frost to occur.

            8. Stockpile of heating and engine fuels brought in by air or cat train.

            9. Complete and thorough maintenance program at base station of all equip–

    ment and vehicles to be used during the summer season.

            10. Logging operations for stockpiling timber to be used in sawmill opera–

    tions during warm weather.

            Spring, Summer, and Early Fall Season . 1. Early spring clearance of snow

    and vegetation over all areas in which the quickest and deepest thaw is desired.

            2. Grubbing and stripping of impervious overburden materials as soon as

    weather permits.

            3. Construction of all drainage facilities.

            4. Establishment of sawmill operation for rough and finished timbers (in

    the Subarctic only).

            5. Establishment of permanent water supply and distribution system (in–

    cluding fire mains).

            6. Construction of necessary sewage-disposal system.

            7. Grading base courses and [ ?] surfaces of runways and roads.

            8. Establishment of rock quarry for necessary crushed aggregate.

            9. Erection of all buildings requiring manual labor and the exposure of

    hands using small tools.

            10. Stockpiling sand and gravel for use during winter operations.

    029      |      Vol_IIA-0097                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions




    Precautions at Site

            Preservation of the bearing capacity of the ground is the first consideration

    in all areas where the soil is fine-grained. This includes preservation of the

    underlying permafrost layer and requires strict control of vehicle and equipment

    movement. If the camp site is established in winter, not only the vegetation but

    the snow cover must be preserved, in order that the spring thaw will not penetrate

    deeper than usual and that the surface will not bec o me a quagmire by early summer.

            If the soil is composed of coarse sand and gravel, the overburden of silts,

    clays, [ ?] and decayed vegetation may be justifiably removed after it has thawed

    during the warm season. If the soil is fine, the upper surface of the permafrost

    layer, usually near the ground surface, must be preserved.

            All routes of travel and storage of piles of materials should be marked to

    insure observance of traffic discipline. Signs and markers identifying stock–

    piles must be placed above the expected snow level. The materials and placed on

    dunnage in such a manner that they will not be frozen fast to the ground in winter

    or affected by surface water during the spring thaw.

            Fire is always a severe hazard in cold weather and can be disastrous to per–

    sonnel and units in remote areas at the ends of difficult supply lines. Every

    precaution must be taken to prevent and control fires .

            Snowdrifts, high winds, and snowslides are other obstacles to road and air–

    field construction and maintenance. Prevailing wind directions and velocities

    must be studied before layout on construction begins. Buildings must be either

    protected from strong winds or reinforced to withstand them. Where roads are

    located transverse to expected strong surface winds, drifting snow must be

    030      |      Vol_IIA-0098                                                                                                                  
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    controlled by proper design. For instance, if the final surface elevation of

    the road is to be several feet above the surrounding ground, the shoulders

    should be graded to a slope not steeper than about 5:1. A minimum slope les–

    sons the severity of the wind foils which produce snowdrifts. Roadways con–

    structed by steep sidehill cuts are protected from snowslides either by natural

    surface obstacles (trees, shrubs, and protruding boulders) or by artificial

    obstacles such as timber fences. The snowslides factor s is generally small in

    arctic areas, however, because of the light snowfall and the extreme dry

    condition of the snow.

            The ice [ ff ?] fog which occurs in extreme cold can accumulate in such volume

    and density as to make an airfield inoperative. The study of ice-fog control

    is a continuing subject. A general rule of thumb is to locate all heat-producing

    facilities (barracks, furnaces, boilers, maintenance shoes, etc.) on the lee–

    ward side of the runway or away from the runway in the direction of the ground

    surface drainage when surface winds are not a factor.



            Surveys should be started as soon as possible so early and correct decisions

    can be made concerning the main parts of the work. Construction can then proceed

    in an orderly manner without waste or duplication of effort. At least three

    permanent bench marks (2- or 3-in. steel pipe) should be anchored in permafrost

    to a depth not less than twice the thickness of the active zone, in locations

    where they will not be dist r urbed by subsequent construction operations. Test

    pits and drill holes, as previously described, will be used.

            Meteorological Records . Continuous and systematic weather and ground tempera–

    031      |      Vol_IIA-0099                                                                                                                  
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    ture records must be kept at airfields. They are useful in air operations and

    in analyzing the effectiveness of construction. They should be started at the

    earliest possible date and continued at least through the construction period.


    Fixing Location of Runways, Taxiways, and Roads

            General Criteria . The location of the main runway is the governing factor.

    All other installations should be placed to provide maximum service to this part

    of the airfield.

            Runways . The center line of the runway is fixed by considering the usual

    factors: wind, unobstructed air approaches, drainage, subgrade, and amount of

    grading. However, on permafrost, give more weight to surface drainage, subdrain–

    age, and subsoils than to the amount of grading. Wherever possible, place the

    runway on coarse granular soils, which are less affected by frost action and

    are easier to drain.

            Taxiways, Hard Standings, and Aprons . Locations of taxiways, hard stand–

    ings, and aprons are limited by the location of the runway. The same factors

    discussed for runways are considered. Special care must be taken to avoid

    disturbing subdrainage when locating and constructing taxiways.

            Roads . Locations of access roads should not be chosen entirely by the

    usual evaluation of topography. The premise that the most direct route is the

    most satisfactory may not apply. In permafrost, give more weight to foundation

    conditions, such as subsoil, groundwater, formation of fields of surface ice,

    Figs. 18, 19 and to snow (Fig. 18) and surface drainage. In general, avoid routes across

    ground showing evidence of creeping or marked swelling. Use sidehill [ ?]

    cuts sparingly because they a re vulnerable to fields of surface ice (Fig. 19).

    031a      |      Vol_IIA-0100                                                                                                                  

    Figure 19. Surface ice resulting from seepage in a sidehill


    Figure 20. Profile of a permafrost layer near a river.

    032      |      Vol_IIA-0101                                                                                                                  
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    Wherever possible, build up roadbeds by hauling in granular fill material. On

    flat terrain, grade the shoulders of roads to a maximum slope of about $

    5:1 to reduce the snowdrift hazard. Where, at a selected site, an access

    road must be built over bottom land underlain at a shallow depth by permafrost,

    the following procedure is recommended:

            1. Survey the proposed layout during seasonable weather, avoiding rough

    terrain and marshes as much as possible.

            2. Take advantage in location of any existing brush, timbered areas, and

    borrow pits.

            3. Delay construction operations until the surface has frozen to a suffi–

    cient depth to permit construction equipment to be [ ?] operated thereon without

    making ruts.

            4. Use the brush and timber to lay a corduroy base directly on the cleared

    roadway. Do not disturb the existing ground surface more than necessary.

            5. Place a granular mat on the corduroy base thick enough to provide grade

    and surface drainage. The lower layer of this mat should be all clean sand or

    dense graded sand-gravel to get best results. It should not be coarse gravel or


            6. A minimum of three feet of fill has been found desirable. After the

    Fig. 20 spring break-up period, only minor fill and regarding operations are normally

    required. Avoid locations directly over a [ ?] pronounced dip in the permafrost

    (Fig. 20).

    033      |      Vol_IIA-0102                                                                                                                  
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    Establishing Grade Lines and Cross Sections

            In establishing the elevation of longitudinal grade lines, and the shape

    of cross sections, the following principles govern:

            1. Use fill sections and avoid cut sections wherever possible. Cut s in the

    natural subgrade are likely to produce failures in bearing capacity, interference

    in subgrade drainage, and surface-ice conditions. They are slow in frozen soils

    and are hard on equipment.

            page no. to be inscribed on final proofs. 2. Determine the thickness of base as described on p. . This thickness

    must be allowed for in establishing the grade line.

            3. Where the active zone is composed entirely of frost-action materials

    (fines) and does not exceed 5 feet in thickness, immediately underlain by a

    thick layer of nonfrost action materials, all frost-action material should be

    excavated. Where the thickness of frost-action materials exceeds 5 feet, fills

    should be placed directly on the natural ground surface. Backfill operations,

    using previously stockpiled granular materials, should be commenced immediately

    following excavation operations and conducted to an elevation to provide ade–

    quate surface drainage.

            4. The base course should extend the full width of the runway and shoulders

    and be sloped and feathered out beyond those limits.


    Drainage System and Structures for Airfields

            Basic Considerations . Experience in the Arctic and Subarctic has shown that

    [ ?] properly built drainage systems are those which interfere least with the

    natural movement of water. Where portions of the natural drainage system are

    altered, an artificial system of similar [ ?] characteristics must be provided.

    All drainage systems are constructed in accordance with the general principles

    034      |      Vol_IIA-0103                                                                                                                  
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    used in temperate zones. Take special precautions to prevent freezing and

    make a liberal estimate of the hydraulic capacity required for the drains.

            Surface Drainage . In the Arctic, surface water from rain, melting snow,

    and ice present s a different problem from that encountered in temperate zones.

    Surface water freezes during the winter, and ice is a hazard to operations

    and construction. Snow is generally stable until the spring break-up occurs.

            Once thawing starts, it is usually continuous. Therefore, consideration

    is given to:

            1. Building shoulders between edges of runway and side collection channels

    Fig. 21 wide enough for storing snow (Fig. 21).

            2. Protecting channels against erosion by using checks or a channel lining.

    Use natural materials such as moss or sod only as a temporary expedient.

            3. Ma r king culverts large enough to handle flood conditions during the

    spring break-up.

            4. Using deep, narrow culverts in preference to the conventional wide,

    shallow ones. Where necessary, steam pipes to permit easy thawing by portag

    portable boilers should be placed in the culverts.

            Subdrainage . In areas where the mean annual temperature is below freezing,

    subdrainage may not be effective because of the difficulty in preventing freez–

    ing of the subdrainage system.

            Surface Ice Control . In most cases, formations of surface ice can best be

    controlled by:

            1. Intercepting and conveying ground water at a safe distance uphill from

    the vital area.

    034a      |      Vol_IIA-0104                                                                                                                  

    Figure 21. Suggested shape for runway side collection


    Figure 22. Suggested method of creating an induced

    field of surface ice.

    035      |      Vol_IIA-0105                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            2. Properly protecting and conveying surface drainage.

            3. Constructing induced fields of surface ice outside of operating zones.

    This entails creating a plane of weakness by first clearing a strip of trees,

    vegetation, and snow, and constructing a ditch and dike perpendicular to the

    direction of ground-water movement. Induced icing fields should be established

    as far from the structure as possible to provide sufficient ice-storage capacity.

    This will prevent overrunning the facility by ice, since ice does not pool like

    Figs. 22-23 water but builds up downslope (see Figs. 22 and 23).


    Drainage Systems and Structures for Roads

            Basic Considerations . The principles of airfield drainage previously

    described also apply to road construction. However, more drainage problems

    are involved since access roads usually traverse much rougher terrain.

            Surface Drainage . In draining surface water:

            1. Reduce possibilities of fields of surface ice by providing an adequate

    number of structures to discharge water into natural drains away from a road.

            2. Construct ditches and dikes to intercept sidehill drainage.

            3. Locate side ditches as far from the crown of the road as practicable.

            4. Use deep, narrow ditches in preference to wide, shallow ones. The

    thickness of surface ice would be the same on both, but the depth of water in

    the narrow, deep ditch allows free flow later than in the shallow ditch.

            5. Provide adequate checks to prevent erosion in side ditches.

            6. Drain all excavations made near the roadbed, such as borrow pits.

            7. Make culvert sections approximately the same shape as the channel for

    cross drainage. Deep, narrow sections are preferable. Where necessary, steam

    pipes, to permit thawing by portable boilers, should be placed in these culverts.

    035a      |      Vol_IIA-0106                                                                                                                  

    Figure 23. Induced field of surface ice.

    Figure 24. Quonset hut damaged by deep snowdrift which

    036      |      Vol_IIA-0107                                                                                                                  
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            8. Make bridges and approaches high enough to clear river ice, as well

    as icing caused by bridge abutments and piers. Provide icebreakers on all

    piers. All available data on previous high water, ice jams, and so forth,

    should be used in deciding on the type of bridge and floor clearance.

            Surface Ice Control . Preventive measure for the control of fields of

    surface ice along roads are much the same as those outlined for airfields.

            In road construction, fields of surface ice at shallow stream crossings

    can best be prevented from forming by creating planes of weakness parallel to

    the road and 50 to 100 feet upstream. These planes of weakness are created

    by ditches and dikes extending into both banks of the stream or by a log

    barrier built in the stream channel 500 to 600 feet upstream from the road.

    In each individual case, considerable experimentation may be necessary to

    obtain the desired results.

            When the method just described is not practicable, as in the case of

    surface ice produced adjacent to the roadbed by deep ground fissures, an “ice

    fence” should be used. Ice fences are composed of any waterproof or water–

    repellent c loth fabric or metal material held in place by vertical posts

    spaced as in a barbed-wire fence. When surface water is momentarily stopped

    by the fence and freezes in place, no further stress is exerted against the

    fence up to the level of the ice. An ice fence may be increased to a height

    limited only by availability of fence material or by need for volume of ice

    control. By this method, surface ice can be brought to a vertical wall of

    control within a few feet of the roadway.

            In all cases of surface-ice control, adequate drainage features must be

    provided for meltwater when the spring thaw occurs. The drainage factor

    will be in direct proportion to the surface area of the ice fields.

    037      |      Vol_IIA-0108                                                                                                                  
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    Base Courses

            General . Base courses constructed in permafrost regions must, in combina–

    tion with any fill materials, either insulate the permafrost from a rise in

    temperature or provide sufficient support for uniform settlement when the

    permafrost thaws. On nonuniform subgrade, it is necessary to protect against

    differential heaving. This usually requires placing nonfrost-action sand and

    gravel fills to a sufficient depth to equalize the differential movements.

    On uniform frost-action soils, it is necessary to provide a base course only

    thick enough to transmit loads to the subgrade of considerably reduced bearing

    capacity so that settlement, if any, will be relatively uniform and the pave–

    ment will not be severely damaged. All subgrade soils have extremely high

    load-carrying capacity when frozen, but thawed fine-grained soils are likely

    to become saturated and be of low supporting value. In all cases, it is

    recommended that: ( 1 ) moving groud water be intercepted and diverted from

    pavements and ( 2 ) adequate provisions be made for constant maintenance to

    correct unequal settlements and keep the field safe for operation.

            Heat and Frost Penetration . Where heat penetrates though the runway and

    thaws the underlying frozen fine-grained subsoil, the result is saturation,

    loss of stability, and attendant settlement.

            Where winter freezing penetrates the runway deep enough to interrupt the

    normal flow of ground water, excessive swelling or formation of fields or

    surface ice occur in the fine-grained material in the subgrade. A typical

    example is a runway kept free of insulating snow: frost penetrates the runway

    and granular base much faster than it would penetrate ground covered with

    snow and other natural surface covering. If previous groundwater fluctuation

    data are available, they should be studied in connection with the drainage

    design for construction.

    038      |      Vol_IIA-0109                                                                                                                  
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            Special Insulation Layers . Field tests have shown that after about

    six months the value of natural insulation such as logs, brush, and moss,

    and of commercial insulation such as zonolite, foam glass, and cell concrete

    is negligible when used in or below granular base runway fills on frozen,

    fine-grained soils in arctic and subarctic regions.

            Limitations of CBR Curves . In permafrost regions, the California bearing

    ration (CBR) is of limited usefulness in evaluating subgrades of soils subject

    to frost action. In the first place, it is extremely difficult to determine

    true-in-place CBR values when soils are saturated and thawed. Secondly, if

    true values are obtained, they may be below 3 per cent and therefore of no

    significance on design curves. For these reasons, this method of estimating

    base thickness should be used only with subgrades of nonfrost-action material.

            Basic of Design . In permafrost regions there are, in general, three

    subgrade conditions which will affect the design of airfield pavements.

    These are:

            1. Subgrades on nonfrost-active soils. In this case, a base-course design

    used in temperate climates can be used.

            2. Subgrades composed of uniform frost-active soils. In this case, the

    design is based on the reduced strength of the subgrade during the thaw period.

            3. Subgrades composed of nonuniform soils. This condition may result in

    differential heaving and settlement and produce a rough pavement surface. If

    the pavement area is predominantly sand and gravels with pockets of silty soils,

    the silty pockets should be removed and backfilled with granular materials.

    However, if the predominant soil type is a silty soil, and the active zone is

    shallow, it will be necessary to protect the entire pavement area by providing

    a base course to the full depth of the active zone, not to exceed five feet.

    Areas of nonuniform soil conditions should be avoided whenever possible, as

    039      |      Vol_IIA-0110                                                                                                                  
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    airfield pavement construction in those areas greatly increases the time

    and yardage.

            Materials . Soils subject to frost action are well-graded soils con–

    taining more than 3 per cent by dry weight of particles less than 0.02 mm.

    in size, and uniformly graded soils containing more than 10 per cent of

    particles less than 0.02 mm. For base-course materials, use only nonfrost–

    susceptible clean sands and gravels.


    Construction Requirements for Base Courses

            The following procedures are recommended.

            In placing base material on saturated subgrades, it is especially impor–

    tant to provide an escape for excess water so it will be force s d out of the

    soil as the fill is placed. If the soil is sufficiently coarse-grained to

    allow internal drainage, this can be done by digging shallow wells or sumps,

    backfilling them with granular material and connecting them with subdrains

    leading away from the construction site. If subgrade moisture content is

    reduced in this way, immediate and better compaction is possible and subsequent

    settlement in the completed base course is minimized. Excavation of frozen

    ground should be avoided.

            The first layer of base course on subgrades of fine-grained soil should

    be clean sand or dense-graded sand-gravel; it should not be coarse gravel or

    rock with voids through which the fine-grained soil, when soft, will ooze up

    through coarse material into the base. Generally, the Arctic does not provide

    a choice of well-graded material and an intermixing of base course and subgrade

    may occur.



            General . Because some settlement almost always occurs with base courses

    040      |      Vol_IIA-0111                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    constructed over permafrost, it is advisable to construct temporary surfaces

    and to provide for extensive and continuous maintenance until subgrade condi–

    tions become stable. Steel L l anding mats or light bituminous surface treatments

    are recommended. After the subgrade and base course have become stabilized,

    a higher type pavement may be justified. This may be bituminous (flexible)

    type or Portland-cement concrete (rigid) type.

            Wood and Steel Landing Mats . Wood landing mats are not considered desirable

    in arctic and subarctic regions. Steel landing mats should be placed without

    sealing the base course so wet or soft spots that develop will be more quickly

    detected. Large settlements can be corrected by removing sections of the mat

    and excavating and backfilling. Small settlements can be corrected by making

    fills through openings in the panels.

            Pavements . High-type bituminous or concrete pavements should not be con–

    structed until it is known that the base and subgrade conditions are stable.

    Bituminous pavements are preferred because of their flexibility, economy, ease

    of placement, and longer placing season.

            Corduroy roads are practical in swampy areas underlain by fine-grained

    soil. Consideration should be given to this type of construction, particularly

    where timber is readily available and satisfactory fill material is scarce.


    Precautions in Grading Operations

            Grading operations in frozen material are very difficult and slow. They

    should be avoided whenever possible, unless the material to be graded is

    gravel or dry sand. During warm weather, allow each horizontal layer to thaw

    before removal. Stripped frozen ground thaws from 2 inches to 6 inches a day in the [(words marking)?]

    summer, depending on its heat conductivity property, the temperature and surface

    velocity of the air, and the amount of direct radiant heat from the sun.

    041      |      Vol_IIA-0112                                                                                                                  
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            In making fills on frozen ground, the sides of ravines, gullies, and pot

    holes are roughened by cutting or blasting to prevent the new ground from

    slipping. A few light cuts along the contours on a hillside will improve

    the bond between the foundation and embankment. Such o c uts must be extended

    beyond the limits of the embankment to provide outlets for intercepted


            Full advantage should be taken of soils found in excavations to maintain

    or create uniform soil conditions in embankments. Pockets of unsatisfactory

    material in the cuts or over which embankments are being placed should be

    replaced with material comparable to that in adjacent ground.

            Surface drainage should be provided in all work areas to prevent accumula–

    tion of water and slushy ground surface.


    Tie-down Anchors and Markings

            Tie-down anchors are provided for parked planes to prevent damage from

    high winds. Adequate markers along runways, taxiways, roads, and at culverts,

    drainage ditches, and inlets must be installed to define their position clearly

    when snow-covered. During poor weather conditions in arctic and subarctic

    winters, with no sun and shadow, unmarked snow-covered roads are extremely

    difficult to distinguish.





            This section discusses the fundamentals of building location and design

    on permafrost. Designs illustrated have been successfully used but need not

    be followed in detail. Type of design selected depends on local soil and

    climatic conditions. Details depend on construction materials available.

    042      |      Vol_IIA-0113                                                                                                                  
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    Where permafrost does not exist, building construction is similar to that

    in any region subject to normal frost action.


    Location Factors

            The general location of a building is dictated by its relationship to a

    building group or project. Administrative, service, and dispersion require–

    ments further restrict a building site, but the exact site should be chosen

    only after a study of the following factors.

            Character of Foundation . Stability of foundation material and existence

    of moving groundwater are the crucial factors affecting building location and

    design on permafrost. Surface and subsurface conditions are frequently so

    variable that a change in location of only a few hundred feet results in much

    improved conditions. It is especially important to avoid ground containing

    layers or lenses of ice, or areas subject to irregular swelling and settling.

            Snowdrifts . In areas subject to strong winds, snowdrifts can cause extensive

    damage. Buildings should not be benched into hillsides where snow can drift

    Fig. 24 deep between the sides of the building and the excavation (Fig. 24). This

    causes severe stresse d s which may push the top of the building out of alignment

    or even destroy the entire structure. Snowslides and landslides as well as

    drifting snow may occur on hills with steep slopes, especially those that face

    the hottest sun. Gullies, valleys, and depressions are subject to deep drifting

    snow. Building in such areas should be avoided.

            Winds. Arctic regions are frequently subject to high velocity winds.

    Since sheltered areas are generally not available, consideration is given to:

    ( a ) locating buildings with their long axis parallel to the direction of

    prevailing winds and ( b ) locating facilities, such as mess halls and latrines,

    near barracks. Although this is commonly done in all camps, it should be rigidly

    practiced in arctic construction.

    043      |      Vol_IIA-0114                                                                                                                  
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            Exposure. Wherever possible, living quarters should face the sun and

    be on the sunny slope to take advantage of radiant heat and sunlight.

            Drainage. Site that are well drained and free from evidence of ground

    movement and surface ice are best.

            Dispersion. Building groups should be separated to minimize fire hazard.

    Coordinate grouping with local ground conditions to hold the length of utility

    distribution lines to the minimum.


    Principles of Foundation Design on Permafrost

            Building construction frequently alters and thermal regime of the ground

    to such an extent that permafrost thaws. If the ground is of fine-grained,

    frost-acting material, its load-carrying capacity is reduced. Therefore, unless

    positive measures are taken to preserve the permafrost, foundations must be

    designed for the bearing capacity of the foundation material in a thawed condition.

    The decision depends on the following factors:

    1. Types of building, heated or unheated.

    2. Area of floor space and type of loading.

    3. Moisture content of foundation material and amount of water available

      for ice growth.

    4. Bearing capacity of foundation material both when thawed and when

      frozen, and differences in ground texture.

    5. Depths of frost and active zones.

    6. Area, extent, and temperature of permafrost.

    7. Groundwater movement.

    8. Type and amount of insulative material normally in the ground throughout

      the year.

    044      |      Vol_IIA-0115                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    Foundation Problems

            Materials for foundation structures must resist shear and tension

    stresses. Wood and monolithic concrete are acceptable; masonry and brick

    are not.

            Lifting and Settling. A foundation resting on permafrost is subject to

    stresses which either lift it or cause it to settle. This is particularly

    true in locations where the active zone and the frost zone are normally

    identical and the surface layer of moss and peat is underlain by fine-grained,

    frost-acting soils down to the permafrost. In these instances, unless specific

    precautions are taken, irregular settlement and damage to foundations occur.

    Lifting is caused by the swelling of material in the active zone which has

    frozen to the foundation, or by the formation of ice under the base of the

    foundation. Settling results when permafrost thaws. This may be caused by

    moving groundwater, heat from buildings, or by increased heat penetration due

    to removal of natural surface insulation.

            The use of muffs, collars, or greasings around that portion of the pile

    in the active zone, to lessen the lifting effect of swelling materials, is

    effective for approximately one season. Piling adequately anchored in perma–

    frost will not be disturbed by such uplifting forces.

            The truncated-pyramid type of reinforced-concrete footing, supported on or

    at a slight depth below the upper surface of the permafrost, shows a tendency

    to heave and should not be used.

            Air Circulation. To preserve the permafrost, it is necessary to provide an

    air space of about 2 feet between the floor and the ground surface to permit

    air circulation and dissipation of heat from the structure. The shading effect

    of the building also assists in maintaining permafrost. A l-foot air space

    045      |      Vol_IIA-0116                                                                                                                  
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    may be used on small buildings up to about 30 feet square. On larger

    buildings the sun beating on the southerly side of the structure (in the

    Northern Hemisphere) during the long summer days causes a deeper thaw than

    on the north side. To prevent such thawing, place vented sloping shields

    on the east, south, and west portions to shield the base from the sun.

    During freezing weather, remove the shields to allow free circulation of

    Fig. 25 the cold air. ( A typical design is shown in Figure 25.

            Formation of Surface Ice . Moving groundwater, especially if under hydro–

    static pressure, may seep to the surface and freeze with destructive effects.

    Seepage is most likely to occur along the contact surfaces of piles or

    foundations, but may occur at any place under an improperly insulated heated



    Surface Foundations

            General . Foundations for buildings may consist of treated timber footings

    placed on the surface of the ground. These are especially suitable if:

            1. The active zone is comprised of nonfrost-acting sand and gravel, con–

    taining less than 3 per cent by dry weight of particles less than 0.02 mm.

            2. The building floor is properly insulated and an air space is provided

    Fig. 26 to prevent transmission of heat into the underlying permafrost (see Fig. 26).

            Permafrost . On rare occasions, the active zone is well-drained granular

    material not subject to swelling and the underlying permafrost consists of

    granular nonfrost-acting material to depths in excess of 40 feet without

    lenses or layers of ice. Under those conditions, temporary construction

    methods, similar to those employed in temperate zones, may be used. Actually

    the permafrost under large constantly heated buildings may be thawed much

    deeper than 40 feet over a period of several years. If there is a subpermafrost

    045a      |      Vol_IIA-0117                                                                                                                  

    Figure 25. Typical design for structure where permafrost is to

    be maintained by proper insulation and ventilation.

    045b      |      Vol_IIA-0118                                                                                                                  

    Figure 26. Design for small temporary structure on gravel

    mat with air space.

    046      |      Vol_IIA-0119                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    water table under abnormal pressure below this depth (40 feet), the water

    rises through the coarse material. It may then present a drainage or

    surface ice problem. The solution is to investigate by drilling as deep

    as the maximum expected level of thaw.

            Thawed Permafrost . Provision may have to be made for heavy floor loads

    such as heating plants, power plants, hangars, and similar structures. Where

    subsurface examinations show that the combined depth of the active zone and

    the underlying permafrost is not in excess of 30 to 50 feet, stable foundations

    may be obtained in the following manner: ( 1 ) thaw through the existing perma–

    frost under the proposed building area by either steam or cold water methods;

    ( 2 ) compact the subgrade; and ( 3 ) construct the foundations, using standard



    Gravel Mats

            Temporary or Lightweight Structures . Foundation difficulties are generally

    encountered in arctic and subarctic areas where the moss and peat covered

    surface is underlain by fine-grained, frost-acting soils. This is particularly

    true where the depth of frost in the active zone and the surface of the perma–

    frost layer join almost every winter seasonally, and the maximum depth of the

    active zone is from 2 to 5 feet. Since gravel is not an adequate insulation

    but serves more as a cushion to distribute the load and equalize settlement,

    its sole use as a foundation mat for heavy permanent structures is not recom–

    mended. However, for temporary or lightweight structures with relatively light

    floor loads, these construction methods are recommended:

            1. Remove trees and brush carefully to reduce disturbance of the existing

    natural surface vegetation.

    047      |      Vol_IIA-0120                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            2. Place about 6 inches of clear sand over the cleared surface. Follow

    with a well-compacted sand and gravel fill to an elevation above the normal

    ground surface to insure satisfactory drainage. A minimum of 2 to 4 feet is

    necessary. The fill m o u st extend well beyond the limits of the structure and

    be sloped to provide adequate surface drainage.

            3. Erect the building proper on firmly placed, treated timber sills,

    spaced to support the designed floor loads and also to provide an air space

    between the bottom of the floor and the top of fill.

            4. It is desirable to make provisions for insulated floors, both for

    comfort of personnel and reduction of heat penetration into the underlying

    air space (see Fig. 25).

            5. In fine-grained soils, ground-water flow is generally very slow. It

    normally causes no difficulty if the thermal regime of the permafrost is main–

    tained by proper construction. Surface water from snow-melt and precipitation

    can be suitably controlled by proper surface drainage.

            Heavy Permanent Structures . In permafrost areas, stable foundation con–

    struction on gravel mats of large, heavy structures such as hangars is difficult,

    expensive, and not generally recommended. Exceptions to this are where accurate

    and extensive subsurface explorations show that there is a permafrost layer

    below the active zone of ample area and depth (more than 50 feet) and comprised

    of fairly dense granular material devoid of ice lenses and layers. In such

    instances, construction operations should be accomplished in the following

    Figs. 27-28 sequence and manner (see Figs. 27 and 28).

            1. Stockpils an ample supply of graded granular material in the near

    vicinity of the site of the proposed foundation. This prevents subsequent delay

    in construction operations due to failure of haul roads which is common in these


    047a      |      Vol_IIA-0121                                                                                                                  

    Figure 27. Building being constructed on a gravel mat in an area

    where the surface vegetation has been removed. Fill

    should be extended to provide adequate surface drain–

    age. Floor should be insulated.

    Figure 28. Large hangar being constructed on a gravel mat in an area

    where all fine-grained frost-acting soils have been removed

    to an average depth of approximately 2 feet below the upper

    surface of the permafrost layer.

    048      |      Vol_IIA-0122                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            2. Lay out the area to be stripped and excavated sufficiently in excess

    of the perimeter of the proposed structure foundation to afford a good working


            3. Strip surface moss and peat and underlying fine-grained, frost-acting

    materials in the active zone and continue excavation to depths of approximately

    2 feet below the surface of the existing permafrost layer. Large tractor-drawn

    carryalls have proved satisfactory for these operations, particularly when work

    is scheduled to take advantage of summer thaw. During summer periods, the

    frozen subsoils will thaw approximately 3 inches daily. By continuous operations,

    it can be removed at this rate until the required depths are reached.

            4. Use the stockpiled granular materials in backfilling operations.

    Commence immediately after the excavation is finished in order to preserve the

    underlying permafrost and to facilitate construction. Fill materials should be

    placed and compacted in approximately 6-inch layers to a minimum elevation of

    3 feet above the surrounding ground surface, on an area well in excess of the

    perimeter of the foundation so that future grading and drainage operations can

    be accomplished.

            5. After placing and compacting the fill, specific excavations for the

    proposed foundation piers or footings may be made.

            6. To avoid the transmission of excess heat through the gravel mat founda–

    tions of the large structures such as hangars and barracks, water, st r eam, and

    sewerage should be supplied to them by overground, insulate utilidors.



            A foundation resting on permafrost is subject to stresses which lift it or

    cause it to settle. This is particularly true in locations where the active

    zone consists of fine-grained frost-acting soils. In areas where vertical

    049      |      Vol_IIA-0123                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    stability is a governing design factor, vital utility structures, such as

    power plants, boiler houses, water tanks, fire stations, and radio towers,

    should be so supported on treated timber, reinforced concrete, or steel

    piling as to provide an air space between the floor of the structure and

    the ground surface. Before piles can be placed in permafrost, a hole must

    be drilled or thawed by means of a steam or water jet. A minimum spacing

    of 8 feet may be used if piles are placed in drilled holes. Steam or water

    thawing must be done with extreme care to prevent thawing out the entire

    building foundation area; usually pile spacing in this case should be greater

    than 6 feet. Normal design would space the piling at 10- to 14-foot intervals.

    For very heavy construction, excellent results are obtained by using 8-inch–

    diameter, standard-weight steel pipe as piling on 5-foot centers in churn-drilled

    Fig. 29 holes. In Figure 29, it will be noted that initially the bulk of the pile load

    is carried by point resistance until the adjoining permafrost refreezes. The

    most satisfactory time for placing foundation piles is during the fall and

    early winter. Pile foundations require:

            1. Provision of an air space and other insulation in the design to

    dissipate heat and prevent thawing the permafrost.

            2. Use of either treated timber, precast reinforced concrete, or steel

    piling. Steel pipe may also be used.

            3. In general, reinforced concrete and steel piling should be uniform in

    cross section throughout their length. Treated timber piling should be installed

    butt down.

            4. Installation of piling into the permafrost should be to a depth of at

    least twice the thickness of the existing active zone. Do not let thawed or

    drilled holes stand open for long periods before placing piles, since the hole

    may freeze up in cold weather or thaw to a detrimental radius during the warm


    049a      |      Vol_IIA-0124                                                                                                                  

    Figure 29. Typical design for structures where permafrost is to

    be maintained by insulation and ventilation by support–

    ing on timber, steel, or concrete piles.

    050      |      Vol_IIA-0125                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            . 30 Figure 30 shows several important utility structures supported on piling.

    These structures have not settled and have given excellent service.


    Factors in Building Design

            In the interior of Alaska, buildings should be designed for temperatures

    of −60°F. and wind velocities of 40 miles per hour, and, in the coastal areas,

    for temperatures of −50°F. and wind velocities of 60 miles per hour. The use

    of insulated floors, ceilings, and walls is necessary to provide comfort to

    personnel, ease and economy of heating, and reduction in the formation of

    ice on the roof.

            Floors should be well insulated to prevent thawing the underlying ground

    and lowering the permafrost below the foundation base. A recommended design

    is shown in Figure 29.

            Roof Loading . Roofs must be able to withstand heavy snow loads and strong

    winds. When heavy snows accompanied by winds and temperatures well below

    freezing are followed by short periods of thawing temperatures, alternate

    layers of snow and ice form on roofs. The thickness of these layers depends

    on the exposure of the structure.

            1. Snowfall. The amount of snowfall (Table III) at any station varies with

    its location. There is a gradation from a minimum in the polar regions to

    larger amounts in the subarctic, with the heaviest snowfall occurring along

    the coastal mountain slopes.

            2. Wind Velocities. Records show that along the Bering Sea coast line

    wind velocities higher than 70 miles per hour can be expected. The maximum

    recorded velocity to date was 73 m.p.h. at Nome, Alaska, on October 27, 1946.

    The average yearly maximum velocity at this location for the period of record

    is 48.7 m.p.h. Along the arctic coast line, the maximum recorded velocity to

    050a      |      Vol_IIA-0126                                                                                                                  

    Figure 30. Operational structures at the Northway, Alaska, Aairfield.

    The boilerhouse, center foreground, is constructed on a re–

    inforced - concrete floor slab, supported on timber piling placed

    well into the permafrost in such manner as to provide about a

    2-foot air space. The 100,000-gallon water tank, right rear,

    is constructed on a reinforced-concrete base supported by

    asphalt-coated piling extending through the gravel mat to a

    depth of 4 feet in the underlying permafrost. The insulated

    tank was constructed on crossbeams placed on the surface of

    the concrete slab so as to provide an air space of about 2

    feet. The power house, left rear, is supported on a reinforced -

    concrete foundation slab placed on compacted granular fill in

    an area where the existing moss, peat, and underlying fine–

    grained soils were previously steamed and excavated to a

    depth of 9 feet below the normal ground surface (winter work).

    051      |      Vol_IIA-0127                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    date was 54.0 m.p.h. at Barrow, Alaska, on March 30, 1935. The average

    yearly maximum velocity at this location for the period of record is

    45.8 m.p.h. In interior Alaska, the maximum recorded velocity to date was

    46.0 m.p.h. at Fairbanks, Alaska, on October 30, 1946. The average yearly

    maximum velocity at this location for the period of record is 32.4 m.p.h.

    Table III. Snowfall at Selected Points.
    Station Period


    record, yr.

    annual, in.


    average, in.
    Barrow 18 36.3 9
    Kotzebue 7 46.9 1.5
    Nome 31 67.2 11
    Bethel 17 42.3 10
    Tanana 5 60.7 11
    Fairbanks 31 55.9 11
    McKinley Park 10 76.7 19

            Roofing Details . Eaves should not be used where there are extremely high

    winds, because they will have no function except to weaken the structure. If

    they are used in areas having less severe winds, the wind-cave factor should

    be used in the design of the building. When the use of caves is required for

    sheltering purposes, high winds must be considered in the design.

            High winds have a destructive effect on roof covering, particularly on

    the low-pressure leeward side. The best roofs are the built-up type, con–

    sisting of a base sheet of 30-pound bituminous-saturated felt nailed with

    large-head roofing nails spaced not more than 6 inches apart horizontally and

    12 inches apart vertically, followed by one or two layers of 15-pound bituminous–

    saturated felt mopped onto the base sheet with hot asphalt. Battens or wood

    strippings must be nailed securely to hold down felt and paper.

    052      |      Vol_IIA-0128                                                                                                                  
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            Doors . Exterior doors should swing inward, as standard-opening doors

    may be blown off by high winds or blocked by drifting snow. In echelon

    shops and garages where floor space is at a premium, rolling or sliding

    overhead doors may be used.

            Structure Details . Building frames for arctic coastal regions must be

    designed to resist stresse d s caused by wind velocities up to 100 m.p.h.

    Design should provide for:

            1. Anchoring of walls to foundations by bolts, reinforcing steel, or


            2. Anchoring of structures, especially those supported by concrete slab

    foundations, by cables and deadmen. In locations where the active zone

    consists of fine-grained, frost-acting soils, immediately underlain by perma–

    frost, arrangements should be made to bury the deadmen at least 4 feet below

    the upper surface of the permafrost layer, parallel to moving groundwater.

            3. Fastening of roof trusses and rafters securely to the frame.

            4. Use either diagonal braces or sheathing for rigidity.

            Earthquakes . Many parts of Alaska are subject to earthquakes. Intensities

    of 3 to 4 or greater on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale are not uncommon.

    In the Tanana Valley, a maximum shock force of 8 plus has been recorded. Past

    history indicates that similar earthquakes may occur at intervals of 10 years.

    Design of large structures, particularly hangars and water tanks, must provide

    against additional stresses caused by earthquake shocks.

            Heating . Individual heating units are more satisfactory and economical

    than central heating plants, except in large permanent installations. Use

    unit-type oil heaters with spark ignition to eliminate explosions from

    downdrafts; also oil is the fuel most economical to transport. Chimneys

    053      |      Vol_IIA-0129                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    should be extended well above the top of all nearly buildings and located

    and constructed so wind will not cause downdrafts. To prevent the escape

    of heat during periods of high winds and low temperatures, buildings should

    be well insulated and weather-stripped. A double door or storm vestibule

    is necessary at each entrance. Adequate ventilation by means of a vent near

    the top of the structure minimizes condensation. Proper ventilation aids

    in preventing asphyxiation from the odorless carbon monoxide gas generated

    by heating fuels.

            Central heating plants may be used to serve a group of buildings in large

    installations. Steam, water, and sewer lines should be placed in common

    overground or underground heated, insulated utilidors. The vacuum return

    line system of steam distribution provides positive circulation and permits

    the use of smaller pipes. Thermostatic traps must be well protected from

    freezing temperature, and each riser must be dripped at the bottom through

    a thermostatic trap. In areas where the active zone is seasonally joined to

    the permafrost, in the interest of fire protection, and the preservation of

    the permafrost, boiler and powerhouse units should not be constructed as

    integral parts of large structures. They should be built as independent units.

            Adequate fire prevention and fire-fighting measures must be taken. Fire

    mains should be inclosed in insulated, heated utilidors. Proper spacing of

    buildings will help prevent fires from spreading.

            Drying Clothes . All living quarters must be designed with adequate facili–

    ties for removing, cleaning, and drying wet and muddy clothes. To avoid

    objectionable humidity and odor in the main sleeping quarters, provide a

    separate room or vestibule near the entrance to the building. Warm circulating

    air is required. Heater r d air from other rooms can be circulated through the

    054      |      Vol_IIA-0130                                                                                                                  
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    drying room and then discharged from the building.


    Power and Communication Lines

            General . Owing to the need of continuous operation of power and

    communication lines, they should not be routed through inclosed utilidors.

    To provide easy access, they should be supported on poles. The temperature

    range and sag curves should be considered in establishing the pole spacing.

            Pole Construction . In areas where the active zone and underlying perma–

    frost is composed of granular nonfrost-acting soil, pole erection may be

    accomplished by methods similar to those used in temperate zones. In areas

    where both the active zone and underlying permafrost are composed of fine–

    grained, frost-acting materials, pole installation should be done in one of

    the following ways:

            1. Place treated butt poles into the permafrost to a depth about twice

    the thickness of the active zone. For suspension or sharp turns, provide for

    the additional stresses incurred by installing additional butt poles and

    adequate guy wires, or by using H-frame construction.

            2. In marshy terrain, it may be necessary to use cross-braced rock-filled

    cribs for pole foundations.

            3. For temporary installations, construct a tripod of three poles with

    a suspended weight from the apex, or fasten guy wires to crosspieces bolted

    to the weighted bottom of the pole.




    General Consideration

            The effect of nearly construction must be carefully considered in project

    planning. Nearby buildings, utility lines, roads or streets, sidewalks, and

    drainage ditches may alter the thermal regime of the ground underlying the

    055      |      Vol_IIA-0131                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    the proposed structure. Care must also be taken that construction equipment

    does not disturb or destroy the natural peat or moss insulation on top of

    the ground, except where called for in design.


    Foundation Construction

            Piles (Forced Thawing). If drilling into the permafrost is impracticable,

    Fig. 31 the thawing methods may be used (see Fig. 31). Steam and water jetting are

    the most satisfactory methods of thawing and can be used in most types of

    Fig. 32 soils. Typical steam and water jets are illustrated in Figure 32. Steam

    at 30 pounds per square inch is satisfactory for depths up to 15 to 20 feet.

    For greater depths, larger pipe and higher steam pressures must be used.

    The pipe must be hammered lightly into the ground. The use of scaffolding on

    A-frame facilitates handling long pipes.

            Once the necessary depth has been reached, keep the steam point in the

    hole from 1/2 hour for sandy soils to 3 hours for clayey soils to make the

    hole large enough to place the pile. The important thing is to disturb the

    Fig. 33 thermal regime of the soil as little as possible. Figure 33 shows the approxi–

    mate thawed shape in sandy silt soil after 1½ hours of steam jetting.

            After the hole has been properly thawed, place the pile by the usual

    methods. Water jetting is required to place piles if the soil is sandy.

    Timber piles have a tendency to float when placed in the thawed hole. They

    must, therefore, be weighted or held down until the permafrost has partially


            Excavation of frozen ground may require blasting, the use of pneumatic

    paving breakers, or thawing with water or steam. The cold water method of

    thawing used by mining companies in Alaskan placer-mining operations is generally

    most economical and produces more uniform thawing action. For small localized

    055a      |      Vol_IIA-0132                                                                                                                  

    Figure 31. Piling driven through 3 feet of active zone

    and anchored to a depth of 13 feet in permafrost.

    Figure 32. Details of steam and water pipe jest. Best jet

    depends on type of frozen soil encountered. Jets on

    right may be used for water as well as steam.

    055b      |      Vol_IIA-0133                                                                                                                  

    Figure 33. Approximate shape of thawed gravel (sandy silt

    soil) after steam point has remained in a 14-foot

    hole about 1-1/2 hours.

    056      |      Vol_IIA-0134                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    areas, steam is faster and equally effective. Use steam in the winter

    since the water may cause severe icing conditions as it flows toward the

    natural drainage.

            Concrete work in the Arctic is similar to the placing and curing of

    concrete in any cold-weather lands. The concrete should be placed at

    temperatures above 70°F. This is usually done by heating the aggregate

    with perforated steam lines laid under the aggregate piles and by warming

    the water. The concrete is then covered with tarpaulins and maintained at

    a temperature of 50°F. during the curing period. This period may be reduced

    to 48 hours if high-early-strength cement is used. If the heating method

    used results in drying the concrete, it should be supplemented by using live

    steam. Concrete should not be placed directly on permafrost since the heat

    of hydration will melt the permafrost. Precast concrete should be used in

    such instances.



            Developing an adequate water-supply system requires: ( 1 ) selecting a

    site; ( 2 ) developing the source; ( 3 ) constructing storage facilities; ( 4 )

    treating the water; and ( 5 ) constructing a distribution system.


    Choice of Site

            Choice of site is based on the water-supply data obtained in reconnaissance

    and from site surveys. The relative importance of the following items must be

    carefully considered in relation to each site.

            Yield . In arctic and subarctic regions, even though swamps, lakes, and

    rivers are a prominent feature of the landscape, the procurement of an adequate

    year-round supply of suitable water for drinking, sanitary purposes, construction,

    057      |      Vol_IIA-0135                                                                                                                  
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    and fire fighting is an extremely difficult problem. Deep wells, tapping water

    below the permafrost, are the most reliable source. For surface waters,

    several sites may be needed. A further consideration is the possibility that

    the demand for water may increase, especially where an installation is to be

    improved or expanded. A source having a yield that can be increased is

    preferred over a source with a limited yield. Remember that the yield of

    groundwater, especially below the permafrost, can usually be increased by

    adding wells while the yield of streams, lakes, rivers, or springs is limited.

    In some locations where the permafrost layer is thick, deep wells are not

    feasible; and other sources, such as rivers and lakes, must be used. In

    winter seasons, this often means melting ice, since rivers and lakes are

    generally frozen solid.

            Difficulty of Construction . Choice of site may depend on the type of

    construction required at each site. Dams and reservoirs, for example, involve

    expensive and elaborate construction and should not be built unless there is

    time for detailed surveys. Wells, on the other hand, are more satisfactory

    in extremely cold regions.

            Location . To make distribution easier, the site should be as near the

    using area as possible but not so near as to affect groundwater or the thermal

    regime at the construction site. The advantages of a good site may often be

    offset by the difficulty of pumping water from the source of the installation

    being served.

            Quality . The quality of the water at the source affects the type and

    extent of treatment required to make it usable.

            Temperature . The temperature of the water plays an important part in

    distribution-system design. Warm-water sources (above 35°F.) are preferred

    to those near freezing.

    058      |      Vol_IIA-0136                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    Development of Source

            Rivers and lakes which do not freeze to the bottom in winter because of

    their depth s can be developed as water-supply sources by constructing a

    collecting basin, channel, or an intake in their middle. River intakes

    must be protected against high current velocities, silting, large amounts

    of driftwood, and floating ice, especially following the annual ice break-up.

    Anchor ice and slush ice tend to clog intakes in winter.

            Dams and reservoirs can be built to store surface water for use during

    the winter months, but they usually create major construction problems. Water

    stored in a reservoir may thaw the adjacent and underlying ground, causing it

    to cave in and slide into the reservoir. If the underlying ground is permeable,

    as shown by borings, the melting of ice particles may start a seri o us leak.

    Ground containing layers of ground ice must be carefully explored before a

    suitable location is selected.

            Sunken Areas . In locations where surface moss and peat insulation have been

    disturbed or destroyed by fire or other means, subsequent rains and spring flood

    waters and other climatic factors may thaw the underlying permafrost causing it to

    settle and create small lakes; such lakes are usually shallow and seasonally

    frozen to their entire depth. In some instances, they can be enlarged and

    deepened by dragline dredging operations to furnish a temporary source of water.

    They normally are not a reliable source for a permanent water supply.

            Collection galleries are the best means of intercepting water from multiple

    springs or from the groundwater in unfrozen ground above the permafrost. They

    are especially suited to a stratum through which seepage occurs. Collection

    galleries should be prepared as follows:

            Excavate a saucer-shaped hole to the stratum of highest permeability below

    the active zone.

    059      |      Vol_IIA-0137                                                                                                                  
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            2. Install a well point in a perforated steel drum.

            3. Place the drum in the excavation.

            4. Surround the drum with granular materials, grade the materials from

    boulders at the drum to sand at the bottom and edges of the excavation to

    give a reverse filter effect.

            5. Continue backfill to normal grade.

            Wells . When sinking wells in permafrost, the following considerations

    should be kept in mind.

            1. Wells can be either drilled or dug. Drilling is preferred because wells

    are better protected from silting and pollution by surface waters and are less

    likely to be deformed by swelling ground. In some instances drilling is pro–

    hibitive due to the excessive thickness of the permafrost layer. Records

    show, however, that at one location in Russia an artesian water supply was

    obtained by drilling through permafrost to a depth in excess of 500 feet. In

    interior Alaska, suitable artesian flows are not uncommon in wells drilled

    through permafrost to depths from 100 to 200 feet.

            2. To prevent silting, caving, and possible pollution, drilled wells

    should be cased into the water-bearing strata. Dug wells should be lined. It

    is advisable to place wells on high ground to prevent surface infiltration and

    pollution. Place the concrete floor slab of the pump house on a foundation to

    prevent heaving and settling. The slab should not be bonded to the well casing;

    otherwise damage by differential movement between the slab and casing may result.

            3. While drilling wells through permafrost, the following precautions

    should be taken:

            a. Obtain an ample supply of fitted well casing to permit continuous

    24-hour drilling operations.

    059a      |      Vol_IIA-0138                                                                                                                  
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            b. Provide steam (or water) jet and sump pump attachments for the

    drill rig to permit immediate advance thawing of the permafrost. This

    facilitates driving of the casing. Pumping operations can be started to prevent the

    060      |      Vol_IIA-0139                                                                                                                  
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    accumulation and packing of fine-grained materials inside the casing.

    The problem of freezing in rotary drilling is greatest between drill runs.

    Alcohol is used to maintain circulation and to prevent freezing when the

    rig is not actually drilling.

            c. Continue these operations until an adequate granular water-bearing

    stratum is encountered and the tip of the casing has been driven some distance

    into it.

            d. Freezing during drilling operations is not a problem if the hole

    is kept dry when operations are suspended for any length of time. During the

    actual drilling, the hot water prevents freezing.

            4. The normal water level of a well drilled through permafrost will usually

    be within the zone of permafrost. Frequent pumping helps to prevent freezing.

    However, prepare to introduce ei her steam or hot water into the well casing

    or suction pipes if freezing occurs.



            Storage facilities are a necessary part of any water-supply system. They

    provide a reserve for peak loads and emergencies such as fire fighting or a

    breakdown of pumping equipment. Adequate provisions should be taken to prevent

    freezing. Tanks or open basins should be in a heated building and elevated

    or outdoor tanks should be properly insulated. Careful design of foundations

    for water tanks or storage basins is extremely important.


    Water Treatment or Purification

            The treatment required depends primarily on the source and quality of

    supply. All water for the use of personnel must be chlorinated.

            Surface Water . Water from streams generally requires filtration. Heavily

    silt-laden water may also require presedimentation in settling basins. Water

    061      |      Vol_IIA-0140                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    from a lake usually does not need filtering if pump intakes are far

    enough from the mouths of streams feeding the lake. Water from swamp

    creeks, ponds, or lakes, containing considerable quantities of dissolved

    organic matter, requires extensive treatment to remove hardness, unpleasant

    odors, and tastes.

            Groundwater seldom needs filtration but generally requires treatment to underline

    remove hardness.


    Distribution Systems

            Water distribution systems, particularly pipelines, present special con–

    struction problems in permafrost regions. Adequate measures must be taken

    to prevent water freezing in pipelines and to avoid disturbing the thermal

    regime in the adjacent ground. Proper design of footings and foundations

    for conduits and pipes is specially important. Various methods of overcoming

    these problems are discussed in the following paragraphs. Where conditions

    are extreme, several methods may have to be combined.

            Preheating . Preheating, or heating the water at the source to approximately

    38°F., is a simple way to prevent freezing in small systems. In long mains,

    intermediate heating stations can be provided by running a short length of

    small steam pipe within the main. Where the water distribution system is long

    or subject to idle periods, it may be necessary to form a loop system or several

    loop systems in which the water is kept circulating during cold weather.

            Pipelaying in Unfrozen Ground . In areas where permafrost is absent to depths

    in excess of 15 feet below surface and this zone consists of well-drained,

    granular materials, water pipe may be safely used if installed below the lower

    limit of the seasonal frost zone. Undisturbed snow cover over pipelines forms

    a good insulator. The use of moss as an insulator is discouraged since it is

    hard to harvest and dry in quantities.

    062      |      Vol_IIA-0141                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            Pipelaying in Permafrost . Install pipelines in permafrost only when the

    soil consists of nonfrost-acting granular material with no ice lenses o f r

    layers. Wood-stave pipe is preferred under these conditions. Do not place

    pipelines underground in areas where the active zone and underlying permafrost

    are compri z s ed of fine-grained, frost-acting soils. Heat transferred from the

    pipe will m o e lt the soils and disrupt the lines. In these instances, pipelines

    should be placed in overground, insulated conduits (utilidors).

            Utilidors . Underground, temporary utilidors should be constructed only

    in areas where the active zone and underlying permafrost are in well-drained,

    nonfrost-acting materials to depths of 15 feet below surface. For small or

    temporary installations construct insulated wood box utilidors for steam,

    Fig. 34 water, and sewer lines (Fig. 34).

            1. Carefully stake out the proposed layout from the standpoint of

    structures to be served, and to afford necessary grade and alignment.

            2. Trench-excavate all surface and active-zone materials well in

    excess, in depths and widths, of the proposed cross-sectional areas of the

    utilidors. This permits final installation to the tolerances shown in Figure 34.

            3. Construct adequately insulated access manhole d s at all proposed utilidor

    junction branches and intersections, and in long runs at intermediate points.

            4. Place and compact gravel backfill to proper elevations to serve as a

    cushion base for embedded treated timber crossbeams. They are placed at

    intervals of approximately 10 feet to support the utilidors.

            5. The final hand and mechanical gravel-backfilling and grading operations

    around and over the installed utilidor should be accomplished with care to

    avoid damage.

    062a      |      Vol_IIA-0142                                                                                                                  

    Figure 34. Typical Section of Utilidor Below Ground Surface.

    063      |      Vol_IIA-0143                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            For the smaller permanent-type, underground installations, where the

    active zone and underlying permafrost are well-drained, nonfrost-acting

    materials to depths of 15 feet below the surface, the following method of

    construction is recommended. For installations where an access walkway in

    the utilidor is not considered necessary, the water, steam, and sewer lines

    Fig. 35 may be enclosed in a concrete utilidor similar to that shown in Figure 35.

    Provide insulated access manholes at required locations. Monolithic precast

    reinforced-concrete deck panels in 6-foot lengths, seated in mastic, for the

    top cover provide ready access to the utility lines in case remedial work

    is necessary. Specific protective measures should be taken in instances of

    roadway crossing over the utilidor.

            For large permanent installations, where the active zone and underlying

    permafrost are well-drained, nonfrost-acting materials to depths of 35 feet

    below the surface, it is desirable from the standpoint of efficient servicing

    and protection during severe weather that all utilities, with the exception of

    high-voltage power lines, be inclosed in underground concrete utilidors with

    Fig. 36 access walkways (see Fig. 36).

            Construct overground utilidors in areas where the active zone and underlying

    permafrost usually join and consist of fine-grained, frost-acting soils with

    ice lenses and layers. Construction should be accomplished in the following

    manner and procedure:

            1. Carefully stake out the proposed layout from a standpoint of structures

    to be served and to afford proper vertical and horizontal grade alignment.

    Avoid, if possible, layouts requiring utilidor crossing over heavily traveled


    063a      |      Vol_IIA-0144                                                                                                                  

    Figure 35. Typical Section of Permanent-Type Underground Utilidor

    Without Walkway.

    063b      |      Vol_IIA-0145                                                                                                                  

    Figure 36. Typical Section of Permanent-Type Underground

    With Walkway.

    064      |      Vol_IIA-0146                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

            2. Drill or jet holes, using steam or water, to adequate depths and

    spacing to permit the installation of treated timber piles (butt down) to

    depths in the permafrost of twice the thickness of the active zone (see

    Fig. 37 Fig. 37).

            3. Construct the insulated wooden utilidor on crossbeams placed on

    the piles to an elevation providing at least a 2-foot air space.

            4. Provide insulated access openings at all junction branches and inter–

    sections, and in long runs at intermediate points.

            5. Roadway crossing over the utilidor should be constructed by slope

    grade to bridges or by use of culverts.

            Pipelaying Above Ground . In areas where water is not available in the

    immediate vicinity of the site, it may be transferred from its source to the

    site by use of pipes laid above ground. Such pipes should be laid above

    ground in a properly insulated conduit and a continuous flow of water maintained.

    Proper foundations are extremely important because of the seriousness of any

    distortion of the pipe. Best results are obtained with piles or posts anchored

    Fig. 38 in permafrost. Figure 38 shows a typical installation of an above-ground

    pipeline which was successfully used. If insulation materials are not available,

    use a small-sized wood utilidor similarly supported on piles or posts. Where

    continuous flow is to be maintained, uninsulated wood-stave pipe similarly

    erected has proved satisfactory.

            Precautions . In all installations in arctic and subarctic regions, allow

    for expansion and contraction stresses occasioned by extreme temperature



    Emergency Water Supply

            Water is normally available from numerous sources for emergency use.

            Lowlands . On stream and coastal lowlands, emergency supplies are available

    064a      |      Vol_IIA-0147                                                                                                                  

    Figure 37. Typical Section of Utilidor Above Ground Surface.

    064b      |      Vol_IIA-0148                                                                                                                  

    Figure 38. Typical Section of Overground Wood Stave Pipe.

    065      |      Vol_IIA-0149                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    from numerous streams, ponds, small lakes, and local springs. Groundwater

    is sometimes found within 5 to 50 feet of the ground surface.

            Uplands . In upland country, groundwater is usually too deep to provide

    emergency supplies. Upland terrain is drier than lowlands, but streams, ponds,

    or springs can usually be located within short-haul distance of emergency


            Winter . Shallow streams, ponds, and lakes freeze to the bottom, but

    deep rivers and lakes furnish water the year a round. Water may also be obtained

    by melting lake or river ice.

            Driven Wells . Driven wells may be used to furnish a small volume of under–

    ground water for temporary use if an underground granular water-bearing stratum

    is available.



            In some of the small temporary installations, sewage is disposed of by

    piping or pumping it directly into lakes, rivers, or tidewaters. Collecting

    sewers, outfall sewers, and ejector pumps for these types of installations

    are constructed or protected to withstand freezing temperatures. Treatment

    for disposal is required either where there is danger of pollution or where

    nearby settlements are downstream from the outfall. In all instances, sewage

    effluents must be discharged at a sufficient distance from the site to avoid

    thawing of permafrost underlying structures, and to prevent the existence of

    offensive odors. In large permanent installations, heated, insulated, sewage–

    treatment plants must be constructed in accordance with sanitary requirements.


    Disposal by Dilution

            At low temperatures, bacterial activity is at a maximum and sewage remains

    066      |      Vol_IIA-0150                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    in a relatively inoffensive condition for some time. Excepting small

    temporary installations, some primary treatment should be given all sanitary

    wastes to avoid creating a nuisance during summer periods.



            Utilidors . The best way to protect sewer pipes from freezing tempera–

    tures is to place them in heated utilidors. Outfall sewers are placed in

    proofreader's note: If Fig. 39 is used, the original caption should go into text. Also it is to be taken out.

    a box inclosures through which a small steam pipe is laid. Figure 39 shows

    a box of this type supported above ground by pile bents anchored in permafrost.

            Insulated Pipes . The temperature of sewage is normally higher than that

    of the water supply because it contains warm water from heated buildings.

    Insulated, unheated sewers will not freeze if all the following conditions

    are obtained: ( 1 ) length of pipeline is short; ( 2 ) velocity of flow is high;

    and ( 3 ) continuous flow is maintained.


    Sewage-Treatment Plant

            Design Data . Data for design of sewage-treatment plants in arctic regions

    are the same as in temperate zones, except that septic action is slowed down

    by cold weather. It requires 50 per cent more time to digest sludge at 70°F.

    than at 85°F., and about twice as long at 50°F. as at 70°F. Normal design

    is modified by:

    1. Increasing the sludge-storage capacity.

    2. Insulating the building floors, walls, and ceilings.

    3. Heating the building.

    4. Heating all sewer pipes within the plant.

    5. Heating septic or Imhoff tanks with steam pipes to increase rate of


    6. 066a      |      Vol_IIA-0151                                                                                                                  

      Figure 39. Sewer outfall pipe e nclosed in wood utilidor.

      Treated sewage flows by gravity to the river for

      disposal. Support piles extend through the active

      zone and are anchored to a depth of eight feet in


      067      |      Vol_IIA-0152                                                                                                                  
      EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions

    7. Constructing a by-pass line around the plant in case of unusually

      severe weather conditions or failure of the plant.


    Temporary Installations

            Pit or Chemical latrines are recommended for small or temporary install–

    tions. Chemical latrines are emptied by pumping the sewage into a tank truck

    which is emptied at a safe distance from the camp.

            Waste water from lavatories and showers is collected in pipes and dis–

    charged into nearby creeks, streams, or lowlands.

            Dumps . Garbage and rubbish are disposed of by burning in open dumps at

    a safe distance away from the camp.


    Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, St. Paul District

    068      |      Vol_IIA-0153                                                                                                                  
    EA-I. U.S. Army Eng: Problems in Permafrost Regions


    1. Purdue University. Engineering Experiment Station. Evaluation of Soils

    and Permafrost Conditions in the Territory of Alaska by Means of

    Aerial Photographs . (Unpublished)

    2. U.S. Army. Chief of Engineers. Permafrost or Permanently Frozen Ground

    and Related Engineering Problems . March, 1943. Special Report.

    Strategic Engineering Study 62.

    3. U.S. Army Air Forces. Handbook of Alaska . April, 1945. Information

    Bulletin no. [ ?] 18.

    4. U.S. Geological Survey. Terrain Analysis in the Vicinity of Northway,

    Alaska, with Special Reference to Permafrost . Wash., D.C., G.P.O.,

    July, 1946.

    5. U.S. War Department. Construction of Runways, Roads and Buildings on

    Permanently Frozen Ground . January, 1945. Technical Bulletin


    6. U.S. Weather Bureau. Climatological Data, Alaska . Seattle, Wash.


    Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, St. Paul District

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