Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Future research into frost weathering

Despite considerable progress in understanding frost weathering in recent years, a new publication by Matsuoka and Murton (2008) identifies six key research questions on which to focus future research:
  1. Why and when does explosive cracking occur?
  2. Are hard intact rocks damaged only by frost?
  3. How can episodic rockfalls or rock avalanches associated with permafrost degradation be predicted?
  4. What are the rates of and controls on ice segregation and bedrock heave in permafrost regions?
  5. What was the role of frost weathering in the evolution of mid-latitude Quaternary periglacial lowlands?
  6. How and to what extent does frost weathering contribute to long-term erosion of cold mountains?

The authors suggest that answers will be found with the help of new techniques (eg rock sensors to detect fluid and ice presence, 3D microtopography scanning) as well as multi-technique approaches. They also recommend particular attention be paid to distinguishing both temporal and spatial scales. The image shows frost shattered bedrock in Norway, and the development of incipient ground.

Matsuoka, N. and Murton, J. (2008). Frost weathering: Recent adavnces and future directions. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 19, 195-210.

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