Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) in Polar Regions


Recent events have recrystallised the benefits that CPT may bring for infrastructure site assessment in the Polar Regions.

Earlier this year we investigated the potential for snow road assessment with BAS, for the impending move of their Halley VI station. Assessing snow strength and detecting the existence of weak layers to depth (~10 m) is a crucial function that can readily be accomplished using CPT.

Ultimately, logistical constraints prohibited our involvement, but we wish BAS all the best with this tricky evolution and look forward to working with them on future snow engineering matters.

The United States are currently constructing a new compressed snow runway at McMurdo to replace the ageing Pegasus runway; again, this is the sort of polar infrastructure that can be readily assessed for strength and bearing capacity, to depth, using CPT.

The Australian Antarctic Division has recently signalled their intent to increase their operational and research capability across greater inland areas of the continent (Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan, 2016). Again, this is an area where site investigation for remote infrastructure development via CPT may prove advantageous.

Research intensity is increasing across both polar regions, and additional supporting infrastructure is necessary. CPT may prove to be most suitable for these applications.

In 2017 we intend to work with the University of the Sunshine Coast to develop a lightweight field-portable CPT device that can be transported to deep field locations via Twin Otter (or similar) aircraft. Realisation of this capability will enable faster and cheaper site assessment capability at sites previously un-assessable using available equipment.

The potential of CPT for polar site assessment continues to grow and we look forward to assisting the capability enhancement of both private and government operators working in these regions.


Interested in the pursuit of remote area science & engineering, and the empowerment of people...

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