Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky, Brian Marker


  • Wendy ZhouEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73568-9_217


Permafrost, or perennially frozen ground, is defined as soil or rock having temperatures below 0 °C over at least two consecutive winters and the intervening summer. Much of the permafrost has been frozen since the Pleistocene. Permafrost occurs in the Arctic, Antarctic, and high alpine regions. About one-fifth of the total land area of the world is underlain by permafrost (Burdick et al. 1978).

The top layer of the ground in which the temperature fluctuates above or below 0 °C during the year is defined as the active layer (Andersland and Ladanyi 1994). Other terms such as seasonally frozen ground, seasonal frost, and annually thawed layer are synonyms for the active layer. The thickness of this layer varies spatially and temporally.

The upper boundary of permafrost is defined as the permafrost table. In the discontinuous permafrost zone, taliks form between the active layer and the permafrost table. Taliks, or unfrozen ground, are layers of ground that remain unfrozen...
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Andersland OB, Ladanyi B (1994) An introduction to frozen ground engineering. Chapman & Hall, London, 352 ppCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berggren WP (1943) Prediction of temperature-distribution in frozen soils. Eos Trans Am Geophys Union 3:71–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown J, Johnson PL (1965) Pedo-ecological investigation, Barrow, Alaska. US Army Cold Regions Research and Laboratory, CRREL Technical Report 159, 32 ppGoogle Scholar
  4. Burdick JL, Rice EF, Phukan A (1978) Chapter 1: Cold regions: descriptive and geotechnical aspects. In: Andersland OB, Anderson DM (eds) Geotechnical engineering for cold regions. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 1–36Google Scholar
  5. Cheng G (2005) Permafrost studies in the Qinghai–Tibet plateau for road construction. J Cold Reg Eng 19(1):19–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Goering DJ (2003) Passively cooled railway embankments for use in permafrost areas. J Cold Reg Eng 17(3):119–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goodrich LE (1982) The influence of snow cover on the ground thermal regime. Can Geotech J 19:421–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Haynes FD, Karalius JA (1977) Effect of temperature on the strength of frozen silt, US Army Cold Regions Research Engineering Laboratory, CRREL report, CR77-03. CRREL, HanoverGoogle Scholar
  9. Hopkins DM (1949) Thaw lakes and thaw sinks in the Imuruk Lake area, Seward Peninsula, Alaska. J Geol 57:119–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jeffries MO, Morris K, Liston GE (1996) A method to determine lake depth and water availability on the North slope of Alaska with spaceborne imaging radar and numerical ice growth modeling. In: Proceedings of 4th symposium on remote sensing of the polar environments, Lyngby, pp 177–182Google Scholar
  11. Kim K, Zhou W, Huang S (2008) Frost heave predictions of buried chilled gas pipelines with the effect of permafrost. Cold Reg Sci Technol 53:382–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Outcalt SI, Goodwin C, Weller G, Brown J (1975) A digital computer simulation of the snowmelt and soil thermal regime at Barrow, Alaska. Water Resour Res 11:709–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pidwirny M (2008) Fundamentals of physical geography, 2nd edn. Publisher: PhysicalGeography.net, 310 ppGoogle Scholar
  14. Rex RW (1961) Hydrodynamic analysis of circulation and orientation of lakes in North Alaska. In: Raasch GO (ed) Geology of the Arctic, vol 2. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, pp 1021–1043Google Scholar
  15. Sayles FH, Haines D (1974) Creep of frozen silt as a function of ice content and dry unit weight, In Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Freezing Ground, Trondheim, Norway, vol 1, pp 109–119Google Scholar
  16. Sellmann PV, Brown J, Lewlen RI, McKim H, Merry C (1975) The classification and geomorphic implications of thaw lakes on the Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska, CRREL Report No. 344. US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, p 21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Zhou W, Huang S (2004) Modeling impacts of thaw lakes to ground thermal regime in Northern Alaska. J Cold Reg Eng 18(2(70)):70–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geological EngineeringColorado School of MinesGoldenUSA