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Photogrammetric avalanche volume measurements at Vallée de la Sionne, Switzerland

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During winter 1999 three large avalanche events were triggered by explosives at SLF's avalanche test site, Vallée de la Sionne, canton Valais, Switzerland. One important goal of these large-scale field experiments was to measure the release and deposition volumes of avalanches by photogrammetric methods. In this paper, the photogrammetric measurements of all three avalanches are summarized. For one avalanche event it was possible to realize the whole measuring procedure as planned, and to obtain volume measurements before and after the avalanche triggering. In the other two avalanche events, the photographs before the triggering of the avalanche failed. Nevertheless the photographs taken after the avalanches provide valuable information on the fracture depth at the fracture line. The mean fracture depth of the largest avalanche was about 2.10 m, varying between 1 and 3.5 m over a width of > 1000 m. The total volume of the deposition of all three avalanche events was about 1300 000 m3. The deposits are distributed over a length of > 1000 m with depths up to 30 m. The difference between the released and deposited volumes proved that avalanches entrain a large amount of snow along the avalanche track. Furthermore, the snow distribution in the deposition zone provides important information about the behaviour of a dense flowing avalanche in the runout zone.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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