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Granulometric investigations of snow avalanches

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Avalanche deposits consist of rounded granules composed of aggregates of snow and ice particles. The size of the granules is related to vertical shear gradients within the flow; studying the granule-size distribution may be useful in understanding the flow and stopping of avalanches. We applied a sediment-size sampling method to measure snow granule-size distributions at different depositional environments on two dry and two wet avalanche deposits at three field sites. The granule-size distributions are approximately log-normal, similar to many natural sediment deposits. The median granule size in the wet and dry avalanches varies between 65 and 162 mm. Wet avalanches tend to produce more large granules than dry avalanches, indicating both smaller flow velocities and near-surface shear gradients. Granule size is similar in frontal lobes and levee deposits, suggesting that levee formation occurs independently of the size segregation at the avalanche front.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-12-01

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  • 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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