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a vague term of many meanings applied to the phenomenon of the cooling of rocks on the upper part of the earth’s crust to temperatures of zero and below; the rocks themselves that have hardened as a result of the freezing of the moisture they contained; and the stratum (layer) or zone (region of horizontal spread) of rocks that do not thaw for a long time.
The term “permafrost” was introduced into scientific usage in 1927 by the founder of the school of Soviet geocryologists, M. I. Sumgin, who defined it as ground frost that exists for two to several thousand years. The phrase “ground frost” was not clearly defined in this formulation, and this led to the use of permafrost in various meanings.
As geocryology developed, investigators found themselves increasingly inconvenienced by the word “permafrost,” and as a result it was sharply criticized by P. F. Shevtsov, L. A. Meister, and others in the 1950’s at the V. A. Obruchev Institute of Geocryology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. This led to a prolonged discussion of all geocryological terminology. Of the many scientific terms suggested to replace “permafrost,” “perennial frozen rocks” and “perennial cryolithozone” are in widest use.
REFERENCESOsnovy geokriologii (merzlotovedeniia), parts 1-2. Moscow, 1959.
Materialy po obshchemu merzlotovedeniiu. Moscow, 1959.
Popov, A. I. Merzlotnye iavleniia v zemnoi kore (kriolitologiia). Moscow, 1967.
Dostovalov, B. N., and V. A. Kudriavtsev. Obshchee merzlotovedenie. Moscow, 1967.
A. E. SNOPKOV