The Development of Ice Ridge Keel Strengths is a four-year collaborative venture between the C—CORE Centre for Arctic Resource Development (CARD) and the National Research Council – Ocean, Coastal & River Engineering (NRC-OCRE). The main focus of the project is to investigate the failure mechanisms associated with gouging ice ridge keels and the conditions under which these keels will continue to gouge without failure. This is important for the design of subsea structures in shallow waters, where ice keels have been observed to scour the sea floor, posing a threat to pipelines and subsea infrastructure. A series of near full-scale keel-gouge tests were carried out to investigate the strength characteristics of a first-year ice keel and its subsequent failure as it was pushed into an artificial seabed. The ice keels were constructed using freshwater ice blocks with a nominal thickness of 10 cm, produced in a cold storage facility prior to the start of the test program. The ice keels were constructed with the aid of a keel former that produced idealized keel geometries of 1.7 m depth, 4 m length and 3.5 m width. Once constructed, the keels were lowered into the water and left overnight to consolidate with air temperatures held at −20°C. The keel samples were tested using a custom-built frame that was designed and used in the Pipeline Ice Risk Assessment and Mitigation (PIRAM) Joint Industry Project. The frame applied a vertical surcharge load to the top of the keel whilst a soil tray was displaced horizontally, causing the bottom of the ice keel to interact with an artificial seabed. A total of ten keel tests were conducted in this test program. The parameters varied were the initial temperature of the ice (−3° and −18°C), the initial surcharge pressure (5–60 kPa), the soil tray velocity (1–20 mm s−1) and the consolidation time (19–48 hrs). An overview of the test program and preliminary results are discussed.

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