Trans-Alaskan Pipeline Case Study

A case study on the Trans-Alaskan pipeline concerning the problems and the features designed to cope with the permafrost conditions for as level geography cold environments. 

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  • Created by: Rhiannon
  • Created on: 07-03-13 17:28
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Rhiannon TynenThe Trans Alaskan Pipeline 04/03/2013
Disruption to the functioning of the biome has long-term implications. This is why
there has been so much concern over the proposed exploitation of resources
such as the oil reserves of north Alaska that fall within the Arctic National Wildlife
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was designed and constructed to move
oil from the North Slope of Alaska to the northern most ice-free port in
Valdez, Alaska
It's one of the biggest oil pipelines in the world at over 800 miles in length.
Delivers 20% us oil production
Problems caused:
It could not be buried underground because the warm oil would melt the
permafrost, this disturbs the wildlife, especially caribou.
Also could cause:
Avalanche hazards
Problems for animals crossing the pipeline
For some of its length it crosses permafrost free areas or regions where
permafrost sediment is course grained. Such surface deposits are free draining
and less susceptible to subsidence on thawing and so the pipeline can be buried
in the conventional way. For most of its length, though, the pipeline incorporates
features designed to cope with permafrost conditions.
Where the pipeline crosses areas of fine-grained permafrost sediment,
it is elevated above ground so that heat from the line is not conducted
into the ground surface. If this happened, thawing of the permafrost
would cause collapsing.
The elevated structure allows the pipeline to shift sideways on its
supports as an extra protection against damage caused by ground
The supports are specially designed to resist being jacked up by
successive years of frost heave.
The line is built in a zigzag pattern so that it is able to adjust to ground
movements caused by either temperature changes or earthquakes.
The pipe is buried where it passes under roads, through
avalanche-sensitive areas and where it could block major caribou
routes. The pipe is covered in insulation.
Due to the temperature of the oil, in some areas, refrigeration units
have been used to keep the ground frozen.


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