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Thin-blade penetration resistance and snow strength

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A thin-blade snow hardness gauge was developed that measures penetration resistance over a length scale (on the order of 10–100 grain contacts) relevant to the fracture of slab avalanches. A thin blade was chosen to measure the ruptures of bonds and grain structures and minimize the effects of snow compaction during penetration. The apparatus consists of a 10 cm wide, 0.6 mm thick stainlesssteel blade attached to a digital push–pull gauge. Blade penetration measurements are easy to conduct in the field and laboratory and required no post-processing or subjective interpretation. Measurements were conducted in snow pits to test the effects of penetration rate, blade orientation and blade width. The blade hardness index, defined as the maximum force of penetration, is a highly repeatable measure across observers compared to the hand hardness test. The blade hardness index was a better variable than the density for correlating with tensile strength measurements in a cold laboratory and with a cohesive strength measure in the field. As strength is one of the most important parameters in the fracture mechanics of slab avalanches, the strong correlation between thin-blade penetration and strength should benefit future slope stability evaluations using this gauge.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2011

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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