Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2021, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (1): 1-17.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2021.20045

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Constitutive models and salt migration mechanisms of saline frozen soil and the-state-of-the-practice countermeasures in cold regions

YuanMing Lai1,2(),ZheMin You1,Jing Zhang1,2   

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China
    2.University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-06-04 Accepted:2020-09-08 Online:2021-02-28 Published:2021-02-07
  • Contact: YuanMing Lai
  • Supported by:
    the National Key Research and Development Program of China(2018YFC0809605);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(41230630);the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(QYZDY-SSW-DQC015);Science and Technology Plan Project of Tibet(XZ201801-GB-07)


A series of saline soil-related problems, including salt expansion and collapse, frost heave and thaw settlement, threaten the safety of the road traffic and the built infrastructure in cold regions. This article presents a comprehensive review of the physical and mechanical properties, salt migration mechanisms of saline soil in cold environment, and the countermeasures in practice. It is organized as follows: (1) The basic physical characteristics; (2) The strength criteria and constitutive models; (3) Water and salt migration characteristics and mechanisms; and (4) Countermeasures of frost heave and salt expansion. The review provides a holistic perspective for recent progress in the strength characteristics, mechanisms of frost heave and salt expansion, engineering countermeasures of saline soil in cold regions. Future research is proposed on issues such as the effects of salt erosion on concrete and salt corrosion of metal under the joint action of evaporation and freeze-thaw cycles.

Key words: frozen saline soil, strength criteria and constitutive models, salt migration and crystallization, multiple field coupling model, countermeasures

Figure 1

Damage to the infrastructure in cold saline soil regions. (a) Subgrade uplifting, and (b) concrete spalling"

Figure 2

The multiphase compositions of frozen saline soil"

Figure 3

Variations of soil freezing point with salt concentration. (a) Sodium sulfate, (b) chloride sulfate (Wan et al., 2015)"

Figure 4

Variations of the freezing points of sodium sulfate soil and solution with salt concentration (Ma et al., 2017)"

Figure 5

Freezing temperature of the ternary pore-solution of saline soil versus NaCl concentration"

Figure 6

Mirabilite solubility versus temperature"

Figure 7

Thermo-hydro-salt-mechanical interaction mechanism in saline soil"

Figure 8

The two physical embankment models (unit: cm). (a) The crushed-rock embankment model with impermeable geotextile, (b) The ordinary fill embankment model. Pink, green, blue marks indicate temperature, moisture and salt concentration, and deformation sensors, respectively (Ma et al.,2017)"

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