Frost Inducing Slides on Membrane-Lined Canal Slopes

by Chester W. Jones, Soils Engrg. Tech. Specialist; Geotech. Branch, Div. of Research of Reclamation, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bldg. 56, Rm. 2764E, P.O. Box 25007, DFC, D-1542, Denver, Colo. 80225,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1983, Vol. 53, Issue 11, Pg. 68-69

Document Type: Feature article


Freezing beneath a polyvinyl chloride membrane lining caused water in the subgrade soil voids to migrate upward and to form thin ice lenses under the lining. During a spell of warm weather, melting ice lubricated the undersurface of the membrane, causing it to slide with its protective soil cover and to rupture the membrane. Factors influencing the stability of membrane linings include a decrease in slope; a thicker membrane, with or without a rougher membrane surface; a more secure anchor for the membrane at the top of the slope; compaction of the cover soils to increase their stability; shallow indentations in the subgrade to increase frictional resistance; addition of a stable layer of coarse material on the subgrade to break the capillarity and prevent the formation of an ice layer under the membrane. Taking extensive measures along an entire canal to prevent slides that occur as small, isolated incidents may not be economical. Small slides can be repaired in the spring before diverting water into a canal. For more critical areas, where delay for repairs is costly, special measures during construction may be justified.

Subject Headings: Linings | Subgrades | Ice | Frost | Membranes | Canals | Slopes | Subgrade soils

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