Laureatov street in Norilsk stands on thawed soil
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Laureatov street in Norilsk stands on thawed soil

July 17, 2022

The street, named after the builders on the permafrost, was their method’s misapplication’s illustration.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The Norilsk people offered to name it after fellow countrymen: the geologist Urvantsev, the Norilskstroy’s first leaders Matveev and Panyukov, the pilot Smirnov, the surgeon Kuznetsov, the geologist Maslov, the deceased gasman Bagaev. Among others, there was a variant to name the street in honor of the Lenin Prize laureates. And this variant was chosen.

In 1966, the Lenin Prize was awarded to the Norilsk civil engineers’ team for achievements in the field of technology: for the pile foundation method. They gave the name to the street.

The Laureatov street’s construction began in 1974 and proceeded at a crazy pace. The construction began on the odd side, the first houses were the dormitories No. 83 and No. 29 (both have already been demolished). Simultaneously with the dormitories, houses of improved series were being built.

The houses were built quickly even by Soviet standards: six nine-story buildings were commissioned in 1975, eight – in 1976. The even side’s construction started in 1979, it was so quickly that six of the nine buildings located there were commissioned in a year.

Dormitories were considered temporary, but necessary housing for the city, because many Norilsk residents continued to live in beams and barracks. The buildings’ construction on the Laureatov street had been almost completed by 1980.

The pace gained at the street’s birth backfired later. The dormitories began to ‘wash away’ with melt water. The Laureatov street is the lowest in Norilsk, and in spring not streams flow down onto it but rivers. By the end of the 1980s, all the houses on the even side were in disrepair, but they still hoped to be reconstructed.

The specialists who stood at the pile foundations’ origins didn’t expect that their piles would be used in such conditions. The rock base lies at a depth of 30-40 meters there. So the street actually stands on thawed soils.

Powerful bulk soils up to ten meters thick were used on the street’s even side. They were even filled with construction and household waste in order to level and raise the site. The bulk soils’ main disadvantage is that they easily drain and let water through, it seeps into them like into sand.

And in winter, the bulk soils’ thickness warms like a fur coat, does not allow water to freeze, which has accumulated under the embankment over the summer. So the street, named in honor of the Laureates, permafrost soils’ researchers, became an illustration of what will happen if the permafrost is not treated with due respect.

In the History spot photo project previous publication we told about the Komsomolskaya street.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

July 17, 2022

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