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Using vegetation to characterize the avalanche of Canal del Roc Roig, Vall de Núria, eastern Pyrenees, Spain

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valanche hazard maps of high accuracy are difficult to produce. For land-use planning and management purposes, a good knowledge of extreme run-out zones and frequencies of avalanches is required. In the present work, vegetation recognition (especially focused on Pinus uncinata trees) and dendrochronological techniques are used to characterize avalanches that have occurred in historical times, helping to determine both the extent of large or extreme avalanches and their occurrence in time. Vegetation was studied at the Canal del Roc Roig (eastern Pyrenees, Spain) avalanche path. The avalanches descending this path affect the railway that reaches the Vall de Núria resort and the run-up to the opposite slope. During winter 1996, two important avalanches affecting this path were well documented. These are compared with the results of the vegetation study, consisting of an inventory of flora, the recording of vegetation damages along eight transverse profiles at different altitudes on the path and a dendrochronological sampling campaign. The data obtained contributed to a characterization of the predominant snow accumulation in the starting zone, the 1996 avalanches and the range of frequencies of large avalanches. Also, traces of avalanches that increase the path mapped in the avalanche paths map published by the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya in 2000 were identified, improving the initial existing information.

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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