Department of Geocryology

The first in the world Department of Geocryology (before 1986 - the Department of Permafrost) was founded at the Faculty of Geology of Moscow State University in 1953 under the guidance of Professor, Honored Worker of the RSFSR VA. Kudryavtseva. The object of study of geocryology is frozen rocks, including underground and ground accumulations of ice and snow. The permafrost area covers about 65% of the territory of Russia, and its thickness varies from several metres near the southern boundary of the cryolithozone to hundreds and thousands of metres in the highest mountain areas of Eurasia, Greenland and Antarctica.

The Department trains students in all directions of geocryology within the framework of specializations "general geocryology", "engineering geocryology" and "environmental geocryology". In recent years, 10 to 15 people graduate the department annually. Over 50 years the Department has trained 552 specialists, including 120 PhDs, 20 of whom have defended doctoral dissertations.

Professors of the Department give lectures for all students of the Faculty on the course "Geocryology". In addition, for students of engineering and geological department the following courses are offered: "Fundamentals of cryogenic lithosphere", "Environmental management in permafrost." Students and graduates of the department are offered more than 20 disciplines: "Dynamic geocryology", "Physics, chemistry and petrography of permafrost", "Groundwater permafrost zone", "Permafrost: geophysical methods of investigation," "Fundamentals of cryolithogenesis", "Geocryological forecasting", "Fundamentals of Geotechnics in the cryolithozone ", etc.

Associate professor О.М. Lisitsyna studying underground ice (the Laptev Sea coast, summer 2001)
Associate professor О.М. Lisitsyna studying underground ice (the Laptev Sea coast, summer 2001)

The programme of training in the specialty "Environmental Geocryology" includes the following courses: "Formation of frozen sequences on the Earth", "Ecological problems of geocryology", "Global climate change, cryolithozone reaction and ecological consequences", "Geocryological monitoring", etc.

In recent years, the Department has published two new textbooks - "General Geocryology" (E.D. Ershov) and "Geophysical methods of cryolithozone research" (Yu.D. Zykov).

The students of the Department have summer specialized workshops and winter workshops near Zvenigorod. Production trainings for students and graduates are held in expeditions alongside the researchers from the Department and in other organizations in different regions of our country and abroad.

Presently, the Department is oriented at research in such directions of fundamental scientific research as physics, chemistry and mechanics of frozen soils, planetary (planetary cryology), dynamic, lithogenetic, regional, historical, engineering and ecological geocryology.

On the basis of fundamental research, the staff of the Department are actively developing a number of scientific topics of applied nature: management of geotechnical systems reliability in the cryolithozone; interaction of organic pollutants with freezing and frozen soils; creation of protective barriers for underground disposal of radioactive and toxic waste using natural and artificial cold, etc.

Workshop on determining thermal physical properties of frozen rocks
Workshop on determining thermal physical properties of frozen rocks

The main results of scientific research for the last 10-15 years are presented in the 5-volume monograph "Geocryology of the USSR" (1988-1989), awarded in 1993 with the State Prize of the Russian Federation; Geocryological map of the former USSR, scale 1: 2 500 000 (1997), in five volumes of the "Theoretical Fundamentals of Geocryology" (1995-2001), monograph "Geocryological Dangers of Russia" (2000), etc.


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