Localized surface-ice weakness on a glacial ice runway

R. M. Lang, George L. Blaisdell
1996 Journal of Glaciology  
Following construction of a glacial ice runway on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica, and prior to flight operations, the runway was proof-rolled. The proof exercise was designed to simulate typical heavy aircraft. Initial testing produced numerous brittle surface failures in the runway ice. Thin sections of ice cores taken from the failed areas showed large crystals (с axis vertical) of clear, blue ice with long, vertical bubbles, indicative of ice formed directly from meltwater. Uniaxial
more » ... . Uniaxial unconfined compression tests on core samples were used to compare runway ice strength with published data for polycrystalline laboratory ice. Since the frequent failure of surface ice had not been expected, it was critical to understand the formation and mechanical properties of the weak ice to prevent its occurrence in the future and to strengthen the existing problem areas. We discuss the likely scenarios for development of weak ice on the airstrip and the physical properties of this type of ice. Also, the procedure used to repair successfully the runway surface is described, which culminated in test flights, followed by full flight operations.
doi:10.3189/s0022143000003415 fatcat:r56rbsu4njdbrjlqjvkyuedn3e