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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Stabilization of rural sewage lagoon permafrost embankment

Status Current
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 06/30/2014
End Date 06/30/2015
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 08/18/2014 11:52PM
Keywords Permafrost, sewage


  Joey Yang

Student Researchers
  Monick Estrada Gonzalez


Wastewater lagoons serve to treat wastewater in rural villages throughout Alaska. They are a low cost solution for wastewater treatment but are constructed out of variably stable permafrost. Permafrost consists of a thick subsurface layer of soil that is frozen for two or more consecutive years. Climate change in rural Alaska has led to stability issues with the wastewater treatment lagoons constructed out of permafrost soils. Due to climate change the permafrost is beginning to melt and excess water from melting ice lenses is causing settlement in lagoon embankments, leading to failure and sewage leachate seeping into the ground water system and causing pollution.

Portland cement can be used as a stabilizing agent to absorb excess water from the thawed permafrost along with strengthening the soil by cementation. Air-entrainment will help reduce the freeze-thaw susceptibility of the soil embankments during seasonal changes. Our goal is to experiment with Portland cement and find out an optimal mix ratio for permafrost embankment stabilization practice.

Samples from Eek, Alaska will be tested to determine the datum properties of the permafrost soils in the area. Mix design will be selected based upon these datum properties and cement mixture carried out. Direct Shear, Compressive Strength, and Thaw Settlement lab tests will be used to determine the adequacy of this solution. It is anticipated that the soil strength will increase along with favorable increases to other properties of the specimen. Our team also expects the cementicious ad-mixture will prove as a suitable economical solution to the embankment failures of the wastewater lagoons in rural Alaska.

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