Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 8, 1651–1659, 2014
The Cryosphere, 8, 1651–1659, 2014

Research article 09 Sep 2014

Research article | 09 Sep 2014

Healing of snow surface-to-surface contacts by isothermal sintering

E. A. Podolskiy1, M. Barbero2, F. Barpi2, G. Chambon1, M. Borri-Brunetto2, O. Pallara2, B. Frigo2, B. Chiaia2, and M. Naaim1 E. A. Podolskiy et al.
  • 1IRSTEA (UR ETGR) – Centre de Grenoble, 2 rue de la Papeterie, BP 76, 38402 St.-Martin-d'Hères CEDEX, France
  • 2Department of Structural, Building and Geotechnical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129, Turin, Italy

Abstract. Natural sintering in ice is a fundamental process determining mechanical properties of various ice forms. According to the literature, limited data are available about the complex subjects of snow sintering and bond formation. Here, through cold laboratory mechanical tests with a new shear apparatus we demonstrate time-dependent effects of isothermal sintering on interface strengthening at various normal pressures. Measurements showed that interfacial strength evolved rapidly, conforming to a power law (mean exponent ≈ 0.21); higher pressure corresponded to higher initial strength and sintering rates. Our findings are consistent with observations on homogeneous snow, provide unique records essential for slope stability models and indicate the significant importance of normal load on data interpretation.