History of research of the zone of permafrost and the frozen materials composing this zone

Water Freedom System

Survive Global Water Shortages

Get Instant Access

We can recognize several stages in the history of research into seasonally and perennially frozen ground.

The first stage (from the sixteenth century to the first half of eighteenth century) is that of the first information concerning discoveries of the permafrost and the first attempts to explain the reasons for its existence. There is no doubt, though, that natives of the northern regions and Siberia always knew of its existence. The first data on permafrost (which was termed the 'Russian sphinx' in the West) probably began to appear in the literature from the beginning of the sixteenth century only when the Russians intensified the search for northern shipping lanes from Russia to China. A work from 1598, A Description why there is no Way to sailfrom Archangel to the Chinese State and then to East India, already contains clear views not only about the presence but also about the general reasons for the existence of perennial ice in the Arctic, connected with the small amount of Solar radiation arriving at high latitudes. Approximately at the same time information on the occurrence of permafrost in North America appeared. In the seventeenth century written reports on the discovery of permafrost in Siberia and within Novaya Zemlya began to arrive at Moscow from Russian provincial governors and travellers. Thus for example provincial governors of the Lena region P. Golovin and M. Glebov reported to Moscow in 1640 that 'the ground does not thaw completely even during the summer'. In Peter I's period some travellers as well as expeditions visited the north and east of Siberia.

At the time when the scientists of Western Europe were still disagreeing and the majority of them denying the possibility of the existence of permafrost, M.V. Lomonosov had not only recognized it but had offered the scientific explanation of the permafrost and its widespread nature. Thus Lomonosov wrote in his work Birth of Metals as a Result of the Earth's Shaking in 1757,

... heat and fire exist uninterruptedly in the Earth's interior. And we should see further if there is cold and ice there in contrast to this. True enough that vast Siberian territories, especially those lying near the Arctic sea, as well as spacious areas composing a ridge of the high mountain separating Siberia from the Chinese state have ground about two or three feet in thickness frozen throughout a summer at depth... It can be associated with winter cold overcoming summer heat and with the fact that these areas, one of them because of cold climate closeness, another one because of occurring high near the cold layer of atmosphere, are deprived of the atmosphere effect

Thus an opinion on the reason for the existence of permafrost had been stated for the first time in the middle of the eighteenth century, i.e. it was pointed out that the permafrost is a result of two mutually opposing processes: summer heating and winter cooling. Lomonosov established the beginning of the doctrine of heat exchange between ground and the surrounding environment as the main factor responsible for the thermal state of the upper layer of the lithosphere.

The second stage (the second half of the eighteenth century to the first half of nineteenth century) of the history of the study of permafrost is that of accumulation of factual material by scientists and recognition of the widespread distribution of permafrost in the territories of Siberia, the Far East and the Far North. Two large expeditions studying the north-eastern region of Siberia (F.P. Vrangel, F.F. Matyushkin, N.M. Koz'min and others) and Novosibirskiye Ostrova [New Siberian Islands] (P.F. Anzhu, A.Y. Figurín and others) were working during the period from 1820 to 1828 and paying great attention to frozen ground and ground ice deposits. The first measurements of permafrost temperature were carried out by A. Erman in 1825 in Berezovo settlement in a well which was 18 m in depth. In 1828 Fedor Shergin, an employee of the Russian-American Company, had taken charge of work on sinking the deep well for water supply in Yakutsk and which took 9 years. In 1837 the sinking was ended at the depth of 116 m because there were no water-bearing horizons there. Thus was the famous Shergin-skaya shaft created which is a historical memorial now and has played a rather important role in permafrost studies.

Academician A.F. Middendorf's expedition in 1842 - 1845 investigated the territory extending from the Sea of Okhotsk coast to the Yenisei river and was of great importance for the study of permafrost. Publication of this expedition's work had put an end to all the doubts about the existence of permafrost and was an important step in the development of geocryology. At the same time Middendorf established the relationship between the depth of seasonal (summer) thawing of ground and its lithological composition and thermal conductivity and had measured the temperature of the frozen ground in the Sheginskaya shaft, to a depth of 116 m - the first time such a depth was reached. These measurements allowed him to make the first hypothesis about the thickness of permafrost.

The third stage (the second half of nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century) of the study of permafrost was marked by the appearance of geocryology as an applied (engineering) field of knowledge and is associated with the beginning of the industrial development of Siberia (construction of the Great Trans-Siberian main railroad, mining develop ment, intensification of agricultural development and migratory movements to Siberia). Active frozen ground studies in that period were associated with the necessity of protecting many engineering constructions from deformations and failures as well as with severe problems with the water supply of the Zabaykal'ye and Amur rail roads.

The beginning of this stage (the second half of the nineteenth century) is marked by permafrost investigations at many sites within the territory of Siberia (G. Maydel', L.A. Yachevskiy, V.A. Obruchev, N.M. Koz'min, A.I. Voyeykov, et al) and in North America (E.K. Leffingwell, K. Brooks, A.E. Porsild, etc.) as well as within the islands of the Arctic Ocean (I.A. Lopatin, A. Bunge, E. Toll, etc.). The problems of the formation of ground (wedge) ice, gigantic icings, groundwater and permafrost geological processes and phenomena were of prime importance in construction in the North and were a major preoccupation of the scientists.

L.A. Yachevskiy, in presenting the schematic map of distribution of permafrost and its southern limit in his report'About the Perennially Frozen Soil of Siberia' in 1889, made a great contribution to geocryology. He had pointed out the great importance of negative air temperature, snow cover thickness, geological structure, rock composition, water saturation and the orientation of slopes as well, for the formation of permafrost. A.I. Voyeykov had considered in 1889 the problem of the effect of climatic conditions on the process of freezing of the Earth's crust, in a published report on frozen ground situated along the rail roads in Siberia. Subsequently V.A. Obruchev and N.M. Koz'min presented the first scientific views of the intimate connection between hydrogeological and permafrost conditions and their mutual effect on each other.

In the 1890s a Committee consisting of A.I. Voyeykov, V.A. Obruchev, M.A. Rykachev and K.I. Bogdanovich was set up at the request of the Department of Siberian Rail Road Construction attached to the Russian Geographical Society under the chairmanship of I.V. Mushketov, for the study of frozen ground. In 1895 this Committee published'The instructions for studying the soil permafrost of Siberia', in essence the first published work on the problems of engineering geocryology. During the first quarter of the twentieth century permafrost studies continued in the same direction. In 1903 S.A. Pod'yakonov published a work 'Icings of Eastern Siberia and the reasons for their formation'. In 1912 N.S. Bogdanov demonstrated various forms of building construction in the conditions of Zabaykal'ye, in his monograph'Permafrost and construction upon it\ V.A. Lvov's work 'Search for and testing of water supply sources in the western section of the Amur rail road in conditions of eternally frozen soiT was published in 1916 and was the first great report on the distribution of hydrogeological problems within the permafrost regions.

The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by investigations in the field of climatology, soil science and agriculture made by researchers from the Department of Migration and from the Meteorological bureau. These investigations were by N.I. Prokhorov, P.I. Koloskov, M.I Sumgin, L.I. Prasolov, B.B. Polynov, V.N. Sukachev and others having close involvement with the permafrost conditions.

The fourth stage (beginning to middle of the twentieth century) is the stage of formation of geocryology as a science within the history of the study of freezing ground, by the work after the Great October socialist revolution. It is marked by intensive studies of permafrost and by the organization of special institutions for training specialists and for studying seasonally and perennially frozen ground.

In the 1920s and 1930s institutions began to appear which could not dispense with knowledge of ground conditions when constructing structures in the cold regions (State Institute of Metallurgical Works Design, the Road Research Office of the Central Department of Local Transport, Institute of Railroad Transport Engineers, etc.). In these organizations groups of researchers studying permafrost began to be formed. The necessity of generalizing the knowledge of geocryology accumulated by that time was reflected in the fundamental work by M.I. Sumgin 'Soil Permafrost within the USSR' published in 1927. Publication of this work was a great event and a turning point in the history of permafrost research.

At the end of 1929, a permanent Commission for the Study of Permafrost, under the chairmanship of Academician V.A. Obruchev, was organized in the USSR Academy of Sciences on M.I. Sumgin's and Academician V.I. Vernadskiy's initiative. During the period from 1927 to 1936 the Commission organized regional scientific research stations for permafrost in Skovorodino, Petrovsko-Zabaykalskoye, Anadyr, Igarka, Yakutsk, Vorkuta, and Norilsk. In addition to purposeful permafrost studies in various regions of the country, this Commission was an organizing centre for all the problems of geocryology. Six ail-Union conferences on geocryology were convened by the Commission from 1930 to 1939 bringing together numerous groups of geocryologists and coordinating investigations in the permafrost regions of the former USSR. It should be particularly noted that the permafrost investigations in connection with surveying and designing of the Baikal-Amur Mainline were carried out in 1932 - 1935, that is, in a very short time. In 1936 the Commission for Study of Permafrost was reorganized by the Academy of Sciences into the Committee on Permafrost in connection with a widening of the research.

In 1939 the Obruchev Institute of Frozen Ground Studies of the Academy of Sciences was organized in Moscow on the basis of the Committee on Permafrost. A number of scientific permafrost research stations were placed under this Institute. In addition a special permafrost laboratory was set up in Moscow and a permanent station was established near Zagorsk city as well to study seasonal ground freezing. The study of particular regional features of permafrost as well as laboratory investigations of composition, structure and properties of frozen ground were intensified in this period. Monographs and works of the Institute of Frozen Ground Studies (about 20 items) began to be published and four issues of Frozen Ground Studies appeared. In 1937 N.A. Tsytovich's and M.I. Sumgin's work Basic Mechanics of Frozen Ground was published. Results of the study of the physical and mechanical properties of frozen soils and their interaction with engineering constructions as well as principles of calculations and designs for foundations on frozen soils, were presented for the first time in this work. In 1940 the Institute of Frozen Ground Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences published for the first time a general text General Frozen Ground Studies edited by V.A. Obruchev, the authors of which were M.I. Sumgin, S.P. Kachurin, N.I. Tolstikhin, V.F. Tumel'. This book remained for two to three decades the only textbook for postgraduate students and specialists of various types studying and developing the permafrost. In 1940 B.P. Veyn-berg's book Ice was published in which conditions of ice formation, its properties and texture, as well as ice in frozen ground, are considered. In 1955 P. A. Shumskiy's monograph Principles of the Science of the Structure of Ice summarizing all the results of the study of ice as a mineral and as a rock came out.

As early as the 1930s - 1940s a problem of training young specialists in permafrost studies arose. This problem led to M.I. Sumgin giving lectures on permafrost at the Leningrad Mining Institute and at Leningrad University and beginning from 1940 at the Moscow Geological Prospecting Institute. His followers continued lecturing on general frozen ground studies subsequently. From 1935 the same course was given at MSU at first by A.Ye. Fedosov, then from 1941 by S.S. Morozov and then by N.I. Bykovskiy and from 1947 by N.F. Poltev. However only in 1953 was the first Department of Frozen Ground Studies (now called geocryology) in the world organized at the Faculty of Geology, MSU, on Professor A.N. Mazarovich's initiative. This Department has become a centre for the training of special ists in geocryology. Professor V.A. Kudryavtsev became head of the Department. In 1961 the Department of Polar Lands (subsequently the Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology) was organized at the Faculty of Geography, MSU. By that time special courses on geocryology were given at a number of educational institutions while at the Obruchev Institute and at MSU a postgraduate course for training highly skilled specialists in geocryology was organized.

In the same period techniques for thermal engineering calculations and the physical and mathematical simulation of the soil freezing (thawing) processes were made (by P.A. Bogoslovsky, L.S. Leybenzon, D.V. Re-dozubov, M.M. Krylov, V.S. Lukyanov, M.D. Golovko, V.A. Koudryav-tsev, G.B. Porkhayev, Kh.R. Khakimov, A.G. Kolesnikov and others) in connection with the need to predict ground temperature regimes and their control for the purposes of construction and agriculture. These investigations called for broadening and extending knowledge in the field of physics, mechanics and petrography of frozen, freezing and thawing soils and for studying the processes of water migration, phase transition of soil moisture, ice formation, cryogenic structure formation, ground heaving and settlement (M.I. Sumgin, A.Ye. Fedosov, N.A. Tsytovich, A.N. Gol'dshteyn, I.A. Tyutyunov, A.M. Pchelintsev, A.A. Ananyan, V.F. Zhukov, P.A. Shumskiy, S.S. Vyalov, B.I. Dalmatov and others). Extensive investigations at many sites were carried out during that period, to develop methods for construction on the permafrost associated with the mining industry, agriculture and water supply in the permafrost regions (N.A. Tsytovich, N.I. Saltykov, P.I. Koloskov, P.I. Mel'nikov, N.A. Vel'mina, V.P. Bakakin, A.I. Yefimov, V.G. Gol'dtman, V.M. Ponomarev, A.P. Tyrtikov, V.P. Dadykin and others). Knowledge of composition, structure, temperature regime, distribution of frozen strata, hydrogeological conditions, permafrost-geological processes and phenomena was compiled for a number of regions with permafrost (V.F. Tumel', I.Ya. Baranov, S.P. Kachurin, P.F. Shvetsov, V.A. Kudryavtsev, N.A. Grave, P.I. Mel'nikov, V.K. Yanovskiy, P.A. Solov'yev, B.N Dos-tovalov, AT. Akimov, A.I. Popov, L.A. Meyster, A.I. Kalabin, N.I. Tolstik-hin, V.M. Maksimov, V.M. Ponomarev and others). The completion of that fruitful period in the history of permafrost investigations was marked by the publication of a two volume work Basic Geocryology (Frozen Ground Studies) in 1959 edited by P.F. Shvetsov, B.N. Dostovalov, N.I. Saltykov, and of the guide to methods Field Geocryological (Frozen Ground) Investigations in 1961.

The fifth stage (the second half of the twentieth century) is recent in the history of geocryological research and is characterized by the further devel opment of the science and its differentiation into a number of scientific directions, with some of them pretending to a right to be independent disciplines.

In 1961 the Obruchev Institute of Frozen Ground Studies in the Academy of Sciences was reorganized and its structural subdivisions were placed under PNIIIS and NIIOSP of the USSR Gosstroy where large departments including a few laboratories had been formed. At the same time the Permafrost Institute of the Siberian section of the Academy of Sciences, USSR, led by P.I. Mel'nikov, was set up in Yakutsk, based on the North-East section of the Obruchev Institute. The scientific and technical laboratory base was organized at that institute and investigations into various field aspects of geocryology including those in many regions of new construction in Siberia were carried out. In 1966 the VHIth Ail-Union Interdepartmental Conference on Geocryology (Frozen Ground Studies) was based at the Institute of Frozen Ground Studies of the North Section of the Academy of Sciences, USSR. The conference proceedings were published in eight issues. In the same period large scale geocryological investigations were carried out at PNIIIS and NIIOSP of the USSR Gosstroy, at VSEGINGEO of the USSR Ministry of Geology and at a number of departments of educational institutions such as MSU, MISI, LGI, ChPI, etc. as well as at a number of scientific research offices of the Ministries of Power, Gas and Oil Industry, Transport Engineering, etc..

Thus the methods of integrated permafrost survey and permafrost prediction were developed and permafrost hydrogeological and engineering-geological research in the construction of hydrotechnical structures and timber industry systems, atomic power plants, gas and oil pipelines, rail roads, etc. was carried out using these methods, at the Department of Frozen Ground Studies under the direction of Prof. V.A. Kudryavtsev. Scientific achievements of the Department were reflected in 25 volumes of the work Frozen Ground Investigations, in the textbooks General Frozen Ground Studies (1967,1978,1981), Basics of Permafrost Prediction in Engineering Geological Investigations (1974), Methods of Geocryological Survey (1979), Ground Waters of the Permafrost Zone (1983), Physics, Chemistry and Mechanics of Frozen Ground (1986), Petrography of Frozen Ground (1987) and others as well as in numerous monographs, technical guides and integrated geocryological maps.

During the same period wide scale scientific work on the permafrost zone was carried out in the various regions of the country by the Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology under Professor Popov's direction, and on the engineering-geological study of Western Siberia by the Department of

Soil Science and Engineering Geology under Academician Ye.M. Sergeyev's and Professor V.T. Trofimov's direction. By and large, typical for this period is the extended development of geocryology along such main scientific aspects as:

1. general, regional and historical geocryology (V.A. Kudryavtsev, I.Ya. Baranov, A.I. Popov, P.E. Shvetsov, V.V. Baulin, K.A. Kon-drat'yeva, N.N. Romanovskiy, N.A. Grave, I.A. Nekrasov, P.A. Solov'yev, G.I. Dubikov and others);

2. thermal physics, physical chemistry and mechanics of frozen ground (N.A. Tsytovich, S.S. Vyalov, B.N. Dostovalov, V.A. Kudryavtsev, G.V. Porkhayev, V.G. Balobayev, B.A. Savel'yev, A.A. Ananyan, N.S. Ivanov, Z.A. Nersesova, I.A. Tyutyunov, S.E. Gre-chishchev, G.M. Fel'dman, E.D. Yershov, V.O. Orlov, Ye.P. Shusherina, M.K. Pekarskaya, K.F. Voytkovskiy and others);

3. engineering geocryology (N.A. Tsytovich, V.P. Ushkalov, N.I. Saltykov, V.F. Zhukov, G.V. Porkhayev, S.S. Vyalov, L.N. Khrus-talyov, L.T. Roman, A.M. Pchelintsev, V.O. Orlov, B.I. Dalmatov and others);

4. methods of permafrost investigations and geocryological forecasting (V.A. Kudryavtsev, I.Ya. Baranov, L.S. Garagulya, K.A. Kon-drat'yeva, A.V. Pavlov, G.M. Fel'dman and others);

5. cryolithology (A.I. Popov, E.M. Katasonov, N.N. Romanovskiy. Sh.Sh. Gasanov, N.A. Shilo, E.D. Yershov, I.D. Danilov, B.I. Vtyurin, T.N. Kaplina, S.V. Tomirdiaro, G.I. Dubikov and others);

6. ground water in the permafrost zone (N.I. Tolstkhin, A.I. Yefimov, A.I. Kalabin, P.F. Shvetsov, N.A Vel'mina, N.N. Romanovskiy, S.M. Fotiyev, V.E. Afanasenko, and others).

The Geocryological Map of the USSR at 1 : 2 5000000 scale and the five volume monograph Geocryology of the USSR (5) are notable compilations of regional integrated geocryological material accumulated to date.

In 1970 the Scientific Council for Cryolithology of the Earth attached to the Academy of Sciences, of the former USSR, was organized in Moscow. The Council successfully coordinated all of the geocryological investigations in the country. Our geocryologists have taken active part in all the International Conferences on Permafrost. The International Association of Permafrost and the National Committee on Permafrost had, as their first President, Academician P.I. Mel'nikov.

At the present stage geocryology as a full branch of geology interacts with a number of interdisciplinary sciences. A few units are set up in the system of the Academy of Sciences (the sections of lithogenesis and engineering geology in the permafrost zone are attached to the Joint Lithology Committee of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology Scientific Council attached to the USSR Academy of Sciences), in Gosstroy of the former USSR and former RSFSR, as well as in other Ministries and Departments.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment