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Towards a field test for fracture propagation propensity in weak snowpack layers

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Slab avalanche release requires fracture initiation and propagation in a weak snowpack layer. While field tests of weak-layer strength are useful for fracture initiation, the challenge remains to find a verified field test for fracture propagation. We introduce the two current versions of a field test for fracture propagation propensity, and report results of testing conducted in the Columbia Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, during the winter of 2005. By extending the column of a stability test approximately 3 m in the downslope direction, the test method allows for the development of a flexural wave in the slab, and thereby maintains the contribution of this wave and the associated weak-layer collapse to the fracture process. Fracture lengths collected on a day and location where the propagation propensity of the snowpack was locally high show a bimodal distribution, with approximately 50% of observed fractures similar to those collected in stable snowpacks, and approximately 50% with much longer fracture lengths.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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