Solifluction processes in an area of seasonal ground freezing, Dovrefjell, Norway

Charles Harris, Martina Kern-Luetschg, Fraser Smith, Ketil Isaksen

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    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Continuous monitoring of soil temperatures, frost heave, thaw consolidation, pore water pressures and downslope soil movements are reported from a turf-banked solifluction lobe at Steinhoi, Dovrefjell, Norway from August 2002 to August 2006. Mean annual air temperatures over the monitored period were slightly below 0 degrees C, but mean annual ground surface temperatures were around 2 degrees C warmer, due to the insulating effects of snow cover. Seasonal frost penetration was highly dependent on snow thickness, and at the monitoring location varied from 30-38 cm over the four years. The shallow annual frost penetration suggests that the site may be close to the limit of active solifluction in this area. Surface solifluction rates over the period 2002-06 ranged from 0.5 cm yr(-1) at the rear of the lobe tread to 1.6 cm yr(-1) just behind the lobe front, with corresponding soil transport rates of 6 cm(3) cm(-1) yr(-1) and 46 cm(3) cm(-1) yr(-1). Pore water pressure measurements indicated seepage of snowmelt beneath seasonally frozen soil in spring with artesian pressures beneath the confining frozen layer. Soil thawing was associated with surface settlement and downslope soil displacements, but following clearance of the frozen ground, later soil surface settlement was accompanied by retrograde movement. Summer rainfall events caused brief increases in pore pressure, but no further soil movement. Surface displacements exceeded maximum potential frost creep values and it is concluded that gelifluction was an important component of slow near-surface mass movements at this site. Temporal and spatial variations in solifluction rates across the area are likely to be considerable and strongly influenced by snow distribution. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-47
    Number of pages17
    JournalPermafrost and Periglacial Processes
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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