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Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) in polar snow

Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) in polar snow
Adrian McCallum


Adrian McCallum
University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia


Penetrative testing is the best means of assessing snow strength in situ. However, existing snow penetrative equipment is unable to penetrate to substantial depth, at a constant rate, in hard polar firn. Therefore, existing Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) equipment, typically used in soils, was modified to allow efficient testing in snow. CPT equipment was mounted on the back of a tractor, and was hydraulically powered, enabling rapid testing to depths of 10 m, in polar firn as hard as 10 MPa, recording data including cone tip resistance and sleeve friction. Analysis of results suggests that three main determinants of snow’s physical behaviour, its strength, density, and microstructure, can potentially all be obtained via this one test: the CPT.

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This page was last modified on 3 September 2013.