Permafrost Impact on Building Construction

September 05, 2010

Cracked bldg
: Jose Saraiva
Summary Author: Jose Saraiva; Jim Foster

The photo above shows the impact of permafrost on a building in the town of Pyramiden, in the Svalbard Archipelago. The islands are Norweigien by a 1920 treaty which gave equal rights to develop minerals to all signers including the Soviet Union who bought Pyramiden in the 1930's. The town was operated as an outpost of the U.S.S.R. until the early 1990s when it was abandoned almost overnight after the fall of the communist regime. The building highlights the dangers of building on permafrost. It's tilted and there's an obvious fracture running nearly its entire height. I was in Svalbard to study ice-wedge polygons -- a feature found in permafrost landscapes. Pyramiden was a strange experience -- a place where one could see a bust of Lenin still standing in it's original public place. There's no one there to tear it down or to maintain it. Photo taken July 1, 2010.

Photo details: Camera Maker: SONY; Camera Model: DSC-T5; Focal Length: 11.7mm; Aperture: f/6.3; Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250); ISO equiv: 64; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; White Balance: Manual; Light Source: Daylight; Flash Fired: No; Color Space: sRGB.