Permafrost Foundations





CCHRC worked with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) to study ways of pairing information on permafrost soils with optimal foundation designs. The current method of building on permafrost is to drill a series of intermittent holes in the ground on a given site to search for permafrost, a costly and time-intensive process. Using new geophysical technology allows you survey a field and narrow in on the "cold" spots that are likely to contain permafrost and just drill in these locations (see the thermal image on left). CCHRC used this surveying technique, along with thermal analyses of foundations and soils, to pair up permafrost characteristics with the best foundation technology. CCHRC and CRREL looked at the thermal performace of foundations at CCHRC and the UAF Sustainable Village by studying existing subsurface thermal data. 

The ultimate goal is to develop a systematic and cost-effective way to design foundations based on specific permafrost conditions in order to reduce the cost of construction, maintenance and failure. 

The outcomes of this project include :

  • a report summarizing performance data on novel foundation systems for light commercial and residential structures
  • an early-warning detection system for foundations on permafrost
  • updates to the Engineering Construction Bulletins and Engineering Manuals (UFC 3-130-4)
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