The main aim of this thesis is to characterise the strength and stiffness of alpine frozen soil in rock glaciers. To this end, the geotechnical response, such as creep and failure of frozen soil was investigated through a triaxial stress path testing programme with novel measurement systems for detecting acoustic emissions and measuring volumetric change. In addition, the resistance to crack initiation and propagation was investigated through a beam bending test programme on rectangular artificially frozen soil specimens, using the acoustic emission measurement system.
The evaluation of laboratory tests on artificially frozen soil specimens implied that the development of deep depressions in rock glaciers occurs through differential creep and thermal degradation, and that the rate of deformation has the potential to lead to instabilities in rock glaciers.
A comparison of the simulation results with the experimental data demonstrated that the semi-coupled model was successful in simulating the most important aspects of the temperature-dependent stress-strain relationship for the frozen soil behaviour that was measured at the element scale.
This thesis contributes to an understanding of the variations in geotechnical response of alpine permafrost, by investigating the behaviour of artificially frozen soil specimens experimentally and numerically with time and temperature under specific stress paths. However, further investigations are necessary to assess the long-term stability of rock glaciers affected by climate change.
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