Duhn, Duhn, Duuhn!
This is a STEM Problem!
• How do we stop the Monster Lobe?
Build a wall?
Build a tunnel?
Refreeze it?
Deflect it?
Bury it in concrete?
Move the Road?
Raise the pipeline?
Minimize Climate Change?
This a STREAM Teaching Moment!
Your Resources
Your teacher colleagues and their students
AK Problem-Solving Bibliography
UAS faculty
Maps of Alaska
Scientific papers and the scientists who
authored them
• DOT scientists and regional managers
• The Monster Lobe Wiki
• The rest of this PPT
Engineering Design Challenge
• Form a team
• Design a tower to hold two tennis balls
• Build it using scissors and:
– Straws and tape
– Index cards and tape
– Pasta and marshmallows
• Test it
• Optimize it
Location, Dimensions, Rate
• Frozen debri lobe less than 70 meters from
Dalton Highway and 300 m from Pipeline
(buried in this section)
• 67◦48.669′N/149◦49.185′W
• Chandalar D-6, AK (1975) 1 888 627 3325
• 65 km north of Coldfoot, 170 km south of
• 100 m wide, 20 m tall, 1000 m long moving 1
cm per day
• Definition: Mass movement of soil and regolith
affected by alternate freezing and thawing.
Characteristic of saturated soils in high latitudes,
both within and beyond the permafrost zone.
• A solifluction lobe in Alaska. Solifluction is the slow
downslope movement of waterlogged soil. A
solifluction lobe is an isolated, tongue-shaped
feature, formed by more rapid solifluction on certain
sections of a slope showing variations in gradient. It
commonly has a steep front and a relatively smooth
upper surface.
A variety of earthflow called solifluction is the
flow of watersaturated earth material over an
impermeable surface such as permafrost. It
occurs frequently in bitterly cold regions such as
in Alaska or Canada. Springtime temperatures
thaw only the first few feet of the frozen ground
(the active layer), which becomes saturated
quickly and slowly flows over the ever-frozen
permafrost below. Solifluction can occur on even
the gentlest of slopes. Not forceful enough to
break apart the surface vegetation, the migrating
material drags it along like a wrinkled green rug.
The soil finally settles on level ground at the
Key Terms
• Climate change, Alaska, mystery lobe,
solifluction, haul road, Alaska pipeline:
• Sliding friction, permafrost, permeable and
impermeable, porosity, viscosity, density,
buoyancy, saturated and unsaturated, moisture,
• Freeze thaw cycle, soil profile, cross section,
core sample, slope gradient, topography
• Distance, rate, time, temperature
• Two and three-D modeling, Glog poster
• Distance Time Graphs
• Distance Time Velocity Time graphs
• Porosity Simulator http://www.planetseed.com/node/93972
• Viscosity Simulator http://www.planetseed.com/node/19125
• Phet simulation of permeable, impermeable and semi-permeable
• Bridge design website:
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