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McCallum, A.; Cone Penetration Testing (CPT): a valuable tool for investigating polar snow

Penetrative testing is the best means of assessing snow strength in situ. However, in hard polar firn, existing snow penetrative equipment is unable to penetrate at a constant rate to substantial depth. Therefore, existing Cone Penetration Test (CPT) equipment, typically used in soils, was modified to allow efficient testing in snow. Tractor-mounted hydraulically powered CPT equipment enabled rapid testing to depths of 10 m, in polar firn as hard as 10 MPa; data recorded included cone tip resistance and sleeve friction. Analysis of results suggests that three main determinants of snow’s physical behaviour: its strength, density, and microstructure, can potentially all be obtained via this one test – the CPT.

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