ASU geographers work on unique project on the study of glacial-permafrost stone formations of Altai

10 April 2018 Department of Information and Media Communications
Senior lecturer at the Department of Physical Geography and Geographic Information Systems of the Faculty of Geography of Altai State University Galina S. Dyakova implements a unique project for Russia entitled "Study of the Internal Structure of Glacial-Permafrost Stone Formations of Altai Using Geophysical Methods".

The term "glacial-permafrost stone formations" was originally proposed by the scientists of Altai State University, but the scientific community usually uses the term “stone glaciers”. In fact, these formations are clusters of rock material cemented with ice and possessing the ability to move independently under the influence of gravity. The formations attract greatest interest for the reason that they contain ice reserves (i.e. fresh water), which are much more resistant to climate warming than modern glaciers.

The object of young scientist’s research is the mountains of Altai. She started working on this topic while taking a master’s degree program at the Faculty of Geography under the supervision of Head of the Department of Physical Geography and Geographic Information Systems Oleg V. Ostanin. Further she took a postgraduate course and continued her studies. Currently Galina S. Dyakova is working on her postgraduate thesis. 

The internal composition of glacial- permafrost stone formations is very difficult to study because of the large volume of detrital rock material. Drilling them is difficult, but using geophysical methods, such as radiosounding and electrosounding, one can study the features of the internal structure.

"Our main task is to estimate the volume of ice in the stone glaciers by means of geophysical methods. After all, this is an unaccounted source of fresh water, the value of which for the modern world is beyond words. In Russia, such studies began to be conducted quite recently, and our project implemented jointly with A.A. Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics under SB RAS is unique, in fact," Galina Dyakova emphasized.

The first research results turned out to be unusual: more than 5 thousand glacial-permafrost stone formations, which do not appear on any map or in the description of the territories, have been found on the territory of Altai and described. Presently, scientists have a difficult task, which is to estimate how much ice is stored there.

The young scientist’s project received financial support from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research within the framework of My First Grant program. Currently, the geographers of Altai State University and Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics under SB RAS are preparing for expeditionary research, which will be carried out during the summer field works. Next, scientists plan to publish the results of their research in international scientific journals.

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