The effect of permafrost changes on embankment stability along the Qinghai–Xizang Railway
After construction of the Qinghai–Xizang Railway, the resultant heat exchange between soil and atmosphere caused changes in the thermal and mechanical stability of permafrost beneath the railway embankment. Monitoring from 2005 to 2010 indicated 12 sections of embankment that experienced more than 5 cm of settlement, with three showing deformations of more than 10 cm and signs of continuing settlement. Embankment stability is closely related to permafrost changes beneath the embankment. Large-scale deformations have contributed to permafrost thaw and artificial permafrost table deepening, and this deformation has not stabilized over the short term. In contrast, small-scale deformations have contributed to a warming of the permafrost that has gradually stabilized as soil temperature decreases. Only three sections of the Qinghai–Xizang Railway have exhibited settlement deformation that exceeds 10 cm, through a deepening of the artificial permafrost table and a gradual increase in permafrost thawing result in embankment settlement deformation. However, with climate warming trends and the long-term operation of the railway, the long-term thermal and mechanical stability of the embankment needs to be carefully monitored to ensure the safe operation of the Qinghai–Xizang Railway.
KeywordsQinghai–Xizang Railway Permafrost changes Embankment stability Deformation
This research is partly supported by the Global Change Research Program of China (2010CB951402) and the Program for Innovative Research Group of Natural Science Foundation of China (40821001), and the Hundred Young Talents program award of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to Qingbai Wu.
- Cheng GD (2003) The effect of local factors on spatial distribution of permafrost and its revealing to Qinghai–Tibet Railway design. Sci China D 33(6):602–607Google Scholar
- Wu Q, Liu Y, Yu H (2008a) Monitoring network of the permafrost conditions and embankment performance along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. In: Kane DL, Hinkel KM (eds) Proceedings of 9th International Conference on Permafrost, University of Alaska Fairbanks. 1:1963–1968Google Scholar
- Yu H, Wu Q, Liu Y (2008) The long-term monitoring system on permafrost regions along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. J Glaci Geocry 30(3):475–481 (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar