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Hazard scenarios for avalanche actions on bridges

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Engineers require impact scenarios when developing hazard mitigation strategies to protect structures against snow avalanches. Since direct measurements of avalanche impacts on large obstacles are rare, the documentation and post-event analysis of avalanche damages is essential to understand the interaction of avalanches with ob- stacles. The objective of this paper is to develop hazard scenarios for avalanche actions on bridges, based on a case study of a well-documented avalanche event. The 40 m long pre-stressed road bridge Ri di Rialp in the Swiss Alps collapsed after being struck by a dense-flow avalanche in 1998. The post-event analysis shows that the controlling hazard scenario was an inclined avalanche impact, not a horizontal impact as one would assume given the topographical situation. Using a failure analysis, an impact angle of 40° and a minimal impact pressure of 172kN m−2 were found. Finally the insights are summarized so that engineers can apply the results when designing a bridge at risk from avalanches.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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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