SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 26 August 2013

Practice of Testing Frozen Soils


When designing building foundations, infrastructure, or operations for natural resource retrieval in cold regions, mechanical properties of frozen soils need to be known in order to avoid sudden bearing capacity failures, excessive creep settlements, and slope failures. Several methods exist to measure the mechanical properties of frozen soils, some of them specified by the ASTM International; however, it is not clear if these test methods are in current use. Do they need to be modified or, in the light of several new developments in the Arctic areas, are new test methods needed? To investigate these issues as well as issues with the rest of the D18.19 standards, a survey was created and sent to laboratories around the world testing frozen soils. The purpose of this paper is to present the survey results. Responses were received from Alaska, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the continental United States. According to the survey results, none of the practices and standard test methods currently under the jurisdiction of the D18.19 are considered outdated; they are all relevant to current industry practice, are utilized as references for their corresponding test methods, and are used by several laboratories. Laboratory tests not currently standardized by ASTM International are performed on a regular basis in the frozen soil industry. The standardization of the following frozen soil tests is recommended: Thaw Consolidation Test, Shear Stress Test and Tri-axial Compression Test. The standardization of the field tests examined in this study is not recommended until further investigation regarding these test methods are performed. The current D18.19 standard test methods and practices do not require major modifications. The only recommended modification for the current standards relates to ASTM D4083-89: Standard Practice for Description of Frozen Soils, Annual Book of ASTM Standards, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2007. These results can be used to guide the future development of D18.19 standards.

Author Information

Oestgaard, Finn, E.
Civil Engineering Department, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, US
Zubeck, Hannele, K.
Civil Engineering Department, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, US
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 62–75
DOI: 10.1520/STP156820130012
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7577-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7556-3