Observations of ice lens formation and frost heave in young Portland cement paste

David J. Corr*, Paulo J.M. Monteiro, Jacob Bastacky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


As part of a research program to image frozen cement past specimens, abnormal microstructural formations are seen in specimens frozen after 10-h hydration. The formations are areas of loose microstructure with aspect ratios of 6-10, which appear perpendicular to the direction of cooling in the specimen. After sublimation of the water in the specimens during the imaging process, these formations collapse, indicating that ice is instrumental to their structure. These formations coincide with longitudinal cracks in the specimen, which do not appear to be due to specimen preparation and are consistent with an internal tensile strain. The authors have hypothesized that ice lens formation and frost heave, or a similar freezing mechanism, is responsible for these microstructural features, which are seen in 10-h specimens and are absent in all other cement paste specimens. Triaxial permeability tests have also shown that the cement paste mix used in this study has a permeability at 10-h age of ~10-6 cm/s. This permeability is similar to that of silty soil, some of the most susceptible to frost heave.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1531-1537
Number of pages7
JournalCement and Concrete Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Freezing and thawing
  • Frost heave
  • Microstructure
  • Permeability
  • SEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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