What is the mechanism in the formation of frost heave?

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In the past, it was believed that the formation of frost heave was related to the volumetric expansion of soil water which changed from liquid state to solid state. However, the increase of volume of changes in states for water at zero degree Celsius is only about 9% and the observed heaving is far more than this quantum.


In fact, the mechanism of frost heave is best explained by the formation of ice lenses. In cold weather, ice lenses develop in the freezing zone in soils where there is an adequate supply of soil water. Soil particles are surrounded by a film of water which separates the soil particles from ice lenses. The moisture adhered to soil particles gets absorbed to the ice lenses on top of the soils and in turn water is obtained from other soil pores to replenish the loss of water to ice lenses. This process continues and results in pushing up of soils on top of the lenses and subsequently the formation of frost heave.

This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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