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Concrete slab cast on Arctic permafrost

At Prudhoe Bay, insulation is needed to keep the ground cold


ocated 275 miles inside the Arctic Circle on Alaska’s North Slope, Prudhoe Bay knows cold. Cold is winds up to 70 miles per hour, temperatures down to -80• F and daylight, or more accurately, twilight only an hour or two a day. In this almost unworldly cold, the ground stays permanently frozen, a solid mixture of soil and ice.

foundation to settle. To prevent this, a network of steel c u l ve rts was permanently installed in the 6-foot-deep g ra vel subbase beneath the footings and floor slab. Aft e rw a rd, cold outside air was constantly circulated through the culve rt s, preventing the ice lenses in the soil from thawing and thus keeping the building from settling. When the weather turns “warm,” the thermostatically controlled circulation system automatically shuts off, enabling the ground beneath to stay frozen. Covering a 25,000-square-foot floor area, this unusual refrigeration system required over 4000 lineal feet of 12-inch-diameter steel culve rt . To reduce the amount of heat loss into the ground, closed cell extruded polystyrene foam insulation was also placed under the slab and footings, a 6-inch layer of 30-psi foam under the slab and 6-inch layers of 60-psi foam under the footings and grade beams. The bearing capacity of the polystyrene itself exceeds that of the 6foot-thick, compacted gravel subbase.

Arctic concreting
Four hundred thirty yards of 3000-psi concrete was needed for footings and grade beams. Howe ve r, to withstand the severe Alaskan cold, a 7-sack mix with an effective 4000-psi strength was used. Aggregate was

Subfloor duct system keeps permafrost from thawing—and settling
When a heavy equipment maintenance facility was built in Prudhoe Bay last year, special measures were taken to keep the frozen ground frozen. Otherwise, when the building was completed and the heat turned on inside, heat loss through the footings and slab would have thawed the underlying ground, causing the building

Closer spacing of smaller wires at the edges of fabricated reinforcing mats helped save steel costs. Minimum lap for 12x12 welded wire in this case became 8 inches instead of 14 inches. screened from local river gravel; maximum aggregate size was 11⁄2 inches. During placement of the footings, a make-shift tent of plastic, parachute fabric and old tarps was erected over the site and heated by portable, dieselfueled heaters to +40• F. After the footings were cast, the building shell was erected, heated by the same heaters, and the floor slabs were cast.

Reinforcement economies
The garage facility was designed for maintenance of all types of heavy equipment, including both rubbertired and -tracked vehicles. Slabs for the tracked-vehicle bays were constructed 12 inches thick with wide flange structural steel beams inlaid flush with the floor surface. Thus vehicle tracks could ride on steel beams, steel on steel. Slabs for the rubber-tired vehicle bays were placed 10

Steel placer positions 12x12—W12xW12 mats on concrete block prior to pouring concrete. Six-inch spacing of edge wires on these mats saved steel in all of the lap zones.

The required minimum lap splice length was one space plus 2 inches. Canada and northern Europe. where the soil profile or soil samples may be observed in a relatively undisturbed frozen state. the wire mats were lifted and set on small concrete blocks 2 inches from the slab’s top surface. with special lengths provided to accommodate pour line configurations of the slab. Placing concrete directly from the truck saved an estimated $37. “Practice for the Description of Soils (VisualManual Procedure). To ensure crack control. Pennsylvania 19103. All were reinforced with 12x12— W12xW12 high strength welded wire fabric mats. The cost is $4. “Practice for Description of Frozen Soils (Visual-Manual Procedure).00 per copy with a 5 percent shipping and handling charge. “Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes.000 in concrete pumping and eliminated the hazard of pumpline freeze-up. Two-man crews placed these structural mats at a rate of 4. Reinforcement mats had to be supported 2 inches from the top of the slab. Two W6.6 percent. DESCRIPTION OF FROZEN SOILS ASTM STANDARD D 4083 Soil and foundation engineers working where frozen soils are encountered. Once a truck was in position for discharging. Workers doing this could easily step through the 12-inch-grid mat spacing. 0. an 8-inch lap could be used.0 edge wires were provided 6 inches apart on each panel edge to provide continuous steel area throughout the pour and to reduce steel buildup in the lap zones. transverse contraction joints were sawed 10 inches deep. The trucks were driven into the building over welded wire reinforcing mesh that had already been placed flat on the ground.” Copies of D 4083 are available from ASTM Sales Services. Concrete pour sizes averaged 20x80 feet in strips which spanned the entire width of the building. the U. 1916 Race Street. The standard complements two other ASTM documents on the description and classification of soils: D 2487.4-inch-diameter smooth wires are spaced 12 inches on center each way. now have a voluntary consensus soil identification standard to follow.” is such a standard. PUBLICATION #C820780 Copyright © 1982. Although there already are identification systems developed by the National Research Council of Canada and the United States Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Laboratory. In these mats. Office of Management and Budget is encouraging government to use standards developed on a voluntary consensus basis.” and D 2488. Mats were 7 feet wide and 19 feet 8 inches long. Philadelphia. covered by flaps of plastic. This reduced the weight of steel needed in the lap by 7.inches thick. ASTM Standard D 4083. such as northern United States. Since the manufacturer provided a 6-inch edge spacing as a stock feature of the 12x12— W12xW12 mesh. provided access for the ready mix concrete t ru c k s. the new standard may also be used in the laboratory on re l a t i ve l y undisturbed soil samples that have been kept frozen since they were taken in the field.8 tons per man per day. compared with mats having 12-inch spacing extended to the edge. The Aberdeen Group All rights reserved .S. Intended primarily for use in the field. Placing slab concrete The building’s garage door openings. The main slab areas required 950 cubic yards of concrete.