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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 6, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 6, 1163-1174, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-6-1163-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 6, 1163-1174, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-6-1163-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 22 Oct 2012

Research article | 22 Oct 2012

P-wave velocity changes in freezing hard low-porosity rocks: a laboratory-based time-average model

D. Draebing and M. Krautblatter D. Draebing and M. Krautblatter
  • Department of Geography, Bonn, Germany

Abstract. P-wave refraction seismics is a key method in permafrost research but its applicability to low-porosity rocks, which constitute alpine rock walls, has been denied in prior studies. These studies explain p-wave velocity changes in freezing rocks exclusively due to changing velocities of pore infill, i.e. water, air and ice. In existing models, no significant velocity increase is expected for low-porosity bedrock. We postulate, that mixing laws apply for high-porosity rocks, but freezing in confined space in low-porosity bedrock also alters physical rock matrix properties. In the laboratory, we measured p-wave velocities of 22 decimetre-large low-porosity (< 10%) metamorphic, magmatic and sedimentary rock samples from permafrost sites with a natural texture (> 100 micro-fissures) from 25 °C to −15 °C in 0.3 °C increments close to the freezing point. When freezing, p-wave velocity increases by 11–166% perpendicular to cleavage/bedding and equivalent to a matrix velocity increase from 11–200% coincident to an anisotropy decrease in most samples. The expansion of rigid bedrock upon freezing is restricted and ice pressure will increase matrix velocity and decrease anisotropy while changing velocities of the pore infill are insignificant. Here, we present a modified Timur's two-phase-equation implementing changes in matrix velocity dependent on lithology and demonstrate the general applicability of refraction seismics to differentiate frozen and unfrozen low-porosity bedrock.

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