Ask a Scientist: Ice Layers


Hello, I am looking for a document that explains the process of formation and growth of ice layers in a lake, a river and oceans (salt water). The purpose is to study the carrying capacity of different kinds of ice layers. Thank you.


Hello. There are a number of publications that may be of use to you, that explain the process of the growth of ice in moving, freshwater and saline water, as well as the bearing capacity of the ice. Most of these should be available through the NRC Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (the national science library), conference internet sites, or online retailers.

For river and lake ice conditions, “River and Lake Ice Engineering”, George D. Ashton, Editor (Water Resources Publications) is generally the text most often found on an engineer’s desk.

For saline ice, the following reference may prove useful to you:

With respect to bearing capacity, Gold pioneered much of the research in this area, for transportation over frozen ice surfaces. Besides the research he carried out through his work at the National Research Council of Canada, he also published an interesting book,

GOLD, L.W. Field study on the load bearing capacity of ice covers, Woodlands Review, Pulp & Paper Magazine Canada, Vol. 61, pp. 153-154, 156-158, 1960

GOLD, L.W. Use of Ice Covers for Transportation, Can. Geotech. J., Vol. 8, pp. 170-181, 1971

Masterson has numerous publications of relevance to bearing capacity, including the following:

MASTERSON, D.M. (2009) State of the art of ice bearing capacity and ice construction. Cold Regions Science and Technology, Volume 59, pp. 99-112, doi:10.1016/j.coldregions.2009.04.002

MASTERSON, D.M. and YOCKEY, K.E. (2000) Field Strength Properties of a Flooded Sea Ice Road, Proc. ISOPE, Paper 2000-JSC-146, Seattle, U.S.A.

The U.S. CRREL website has numerous bearing capacity documents available, many by Nevel:

Finally, the new ISO 19906 Offshore Arctic Structures code has a chapter on Ice Engineering, which contains design guidelines for bearing capacity for roads, for example, over ice.

I hope these can be of help to you.

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