Thompson Drive | UAF Campus
Much of Thompson Drive is built on a huge pile of coarse, grapefruit-sized rocks that allow air circulation beneath the roadway. Warm air rises and cool air sinks. Gas-filled hairpin thermosyphons are also placed horizontally beneath a portion of the asphalt surface. The refrigerant inside evaporates in the bottom portion and condenses when it travels as a gas to the top. Each thermosyphon helps to keep the permafrost below remain frozen.
Those previously unproven design elements, suggested by UAF engineers Doug Goering, John Zarling and Billy Connor, have kept the permafrost beneath Thompson Drive stable, allowing the road to remain flat and smooth. This method has new been used on several other roads in the state that are vulnerable to thawing.
Pipeline Viewpoint | Fox, Alaska
Here participants are afforded a close-up look at one of the world's engineering marvels, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The 48-inch diameter pipeline navigates through three major mountain ranges and over 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.
At the viewpoint you will find informational displays about the pipeline, an example of the “pig” used to clean and inspect the inside of the pipeline, and towering thermoshypons used to keep the permafrost beneath the structure frozen. Roughly 420 miles of the pipeline are elevated in the same way using these thermosypons. Food for thought: every hour, more than a million dollars of oil flows through the pipeline on its 8.6 day journey across the state of Alaska.
Goldstream Road | Fairbanks, Alaska
Across much of the Fairbanks area you will find several irregular surfaces and hollows of marshy hollows and small hummocks, also known as thermokarsts, which are formed as ice-rich permafrost thaws. In the winter, small domes form on the surface from frost heaving and then collapse during the summer leaving small surface depressions. In some cases, the ice lenses will grow and form larger surface hummocks. These periglacial formations are prone to selective melting of the permafrost and often leave behind bodies of water ranging from as small as a backyard pond to an entire lake.
Permafrost Tunnel | Fox, AK
The Permafrost Tunnel began in the early 1960s a training camp for the Army Corps of Engineers to learn about excavating permafrost. Since then, it has become a vessel by which the interested parties such as the Bureau of Mines, UAF and its many associated faculty and students, the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, and others can experience and research permafrost, other frozen formations, and the embedded fossils and sediments first hand. Since the tunnel is not open to the public, experiencing the 360 foot long tunnel is a once in a lifetime experience.