Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2017, Vol. 9 ›› Issue (3): 221-228.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2017.00221

• ARTICLES • Previous Articles    

Soil freezing process and different expressions for the soil-freezing characteristic curve

JunPing Ren1, Sai K. Vanapalli1,2, Zhong Han1,2   

  1. 1. Department of Civil Engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5, Canada;
    2. School of Civil Engineering, Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei 430072, China
  • Received:2016-11-15 Revised:2016-12-15 Published:2018-11-23
  • Contact: Vanapalli Sai K., Sai K. Vanapalli, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5, Canada. Tel: +1-613-562-5800 X. 6638; Fax: 613-562-5173; E-mail:

Abstract: The soil-freezing characteristic curve (SFCC), which represents the relationship between unfrozen water content and sub-freezing temperature (or suction at ice-water interface) in a freezing soil, can be used for understanding the transportation of heat, water, and solute in frozen soils. In this paper, the soil freezing process and the similarity between the SFCC of saturated frozen soil and soil-water characteristic curve (SWCC) of unfrozen unsaturated soil are reviewed. Based on similar characteristics between SWCC and SFCC, a conceptual SFCC is drawn for illustrating the main features of soil freezing and thawing processes. Various SFCC expressions from the literature are summarized. Four widely used expressions (i.e., power relationship, exponential relationship, van Genuchten 1980 equation and Fredlund and Xing 1994 equation) are evaluated using published experimental data on four different soils (i.e., sandy loam, silt, clay, and saline silt). Results show that the exponential relationship and van Genuchten (1980) equation are more suitable for sandy soils. The simple power relationship can be used to reasonably best-fit the SFCC for soils with different particle sizes; however, it exhibits limitations when fitting the saline silt data. The Fredlund and Xing (1994) equation is suitable for fitting the SFCCs for all soils studied in this paper.

Key words: frozen soil, soil-freezing characteristic curve, Clapeyron equation, soil-water characteristic curve, unfrozen water content

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