The ten-year Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station Replacement Project, located in Antarctica, involves buildings designed to be built above a 10,000 foot deep snow field. At the site, the temperature varies between –120 degrees and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Consequently, the snow never melts; the snowfield is growing at a rate of about 8 inches per year, presenting a key structural challenge. The increasing snow pack in combination with the weight of the buildings generates significant settlements as the snow compacts over the life of the structures. Also, at South Pole the only relief is the Station itself, so that structures at grade quickly drift with snow.

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

 

The innovations in the structural design to address these challenges are a Station structure elevated above the drifting snow that is designed to be jacked twice over its lifetime, to a total height of 12 feet, as the snow accumulates. To address the differential settlement, the foundation for the Station is a grid of grade beams comprised of steel box beams acting as a rigid “raft” foundation to bridge any areas where the snow has a lower bearing capacity. As the foundation bridges these areas it increases the bearing stress to adjacent areas, to keep overall settlement as uniform as possible. Steel pipe columns cantilever from this grid of steel grade beams. No vertical bracing is used to stabilize the structure since it interferes with the air flow under the building and as it is buried in the snow the settling snow drags down on the bracing and loads it in a way it is not designed for. The superstructure above straddles the pipe columns; to jack the station new columns sections are added. From the top of these new column sections the Station is raised with hydraulic jacks.

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

 
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

The innovations in the structural design to address these challenges are a Station structure elevated above the drifting snow that is designed to be jacked twice over its lifetime, to a total height of 12 feet, as the snow accumulates. To address the differential settlement, the foundation for the Station is a grid of grade beams comprised of steel box beams acting as a rigid “raft” foundation to bridge any areas where the snow has a lower bearing capacity. As the foundation bridges these areas it increases the bearing stress to adjacent areas, to keep overall settlement as uniform as possible. Steel pipe columns cantilever from this grid of steel grade beams. No vertical bracing is used to stabilize the structure since it interferes with the air flow under the building and as it is buried in the snow the settling snow drags down on the bracing and loads it in a way it is not designed for. The superstructure above straddles the pipe columns; to jack the station new columns sections are added. From the top of these new column sections the Station is raised with hydraulic jacks.

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station