SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 26 August 2013

Sampling, Machining, and Testing of Naturally Frozen Soils


For designing infrastructure foundations in cold regions, it is essential to evaluate the mechanical properties and characteristics of naturally frozen soils obtained from the field. However, sampling frozen soils is a difficult task especially when looking for minimally disturbed naturally frozen soil samples. The less disturbed the samples, the more reliably one can evaluate the mechanical properties of the frozen soils at its in situ condition. This paper describes the processes used to extract and machine naturally frozen soil samples for mechanical property testing. The extraction process involves a chainsaw with a carbide chain to cut a square into the ground of the desired size and the isolated block is snapped from the ground by using a wedge. The machining process involves cutting the block sample into octagons. During this process, particular attention is paid to the orientation of soil fabric. Once an octagon is made, a lathe is used with a special holding bit to avoid disturbing the octagon ends. Carbide cutting tools are needed as standard cutters dull very quickly and heat begins affecting the soil. The rate of lathing is carefully controlled to minimize the heat disturbance and roughness of the cylinder surface. A four-jaw chuck is used to face both sides of the specimen with the lathe to ensure that the two faces are parallel. This machining process is believed to minimize the thermal and mechanical disturbance to the specimen. The testing equipment and sensors used to measure stress–strain behavior are described. Testing data obtained from four samples with different orientation angle are presented.

Author Information

Still, Benjamin
School of Engineering, Univ. of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, US
Yang, Zhaohui, (Joey)
School of Engineering, Univ. of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, US
Ge, Xiaoxuan
School of Engineering, Univ. of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, US
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 49–61
DOI: 10.1520/STP156820130003
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7577-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7556-3