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Rheological measurements of the viscoelastic properties of snow

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In order to determine the viscoelastic properties of snow, torsional shear measurements were performed in a cold laboratory with a stress-controlled rheometer. Small samples (60 mm in diameter and about 7 mm thick) of natural snow collected from the nearby study plot were loaded in simple shear with monotonically increasing stress (stress ramp) and with sinusoidally varying stress (oscillation). The dynamic measuring method allows the deformation process to be separated into a time-independent part (elastic) and a time-dependent part (viscous). The applied torque is sufficiently small to prevent destructive deformation, generally permitting the true viscoelastic properties of a sample to be obtained over a large range of frequency and temperature. The limit strain for linear viscoelastic deformation was found to be very small (0.5–5 × 10−4). Experiments performed beyond the linear range imply important textural changes (damage, breaking of bonds). The large strain reached during stress-ramp experiments showed that the ongoing damage process must be balanced by a healing (sintering) process. The usefulness of a rheometer was proven. It is a precise method for measuring with high reproducibility the rheological parameters of snow, and data gained with it improve our understanding of the deformation process under shear loading.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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