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Hazard assessment of potential periglacial debris flows based on GIS-based spatial modelling and geophysical field surveys: a case study in the Swiss Alps


Kneisel, C; Rothenbühler, C; Keller, F; Haeberli, W (2007). Hazard assessment of potential periglacial debris flows based on GIS-based spatial modelling and geophysical field surveys: a case study in the Swiss Alps. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 18(3):259-268.

Abstract

Combined geomorphological and geophysical approaches were used to perform a hazard assessment of potential periglacial debris flow. Possible debris flow initiation zones were identified within a GIS-based model and located based on geomorphic attributes which contribute the most to this type of instability. In permafrost-affected alpine environments, these include the extent and location of ground ice and permafrost. In a potential debris flow-starting zone in the Upper Engadine (moraine/debris rock glacier complex Boval) two-dimensional electrical resistivity surveys were used to detect the presence/absence of permafrost and to estimate active-layer depth. The results show that the moraine complex represents a periglacial debris reservoir which consists of frozen and unfrozen debris. The ice-bonded part of the moraine is largely protected from sudden destabilisation and retrogressive erosion can be assumed to be limited. However, future degradation or loss of permafrost in the lower parts of the debris rock glacier would increase the amount of erodible debris and generally reduce mechanical stability.

Abstract

Combined geomorphological and geophysical approaches were used to perform a hazard assessment of potential periglacial debris flow. Possible debris flow initiation zones were identified within a GIS-based model and located based on geomorphic attributes which contribute the most to this type of instability. In permafrost-affected alpine environments, these include the extent and location of ground ice and permafrost. In a potential debris flow-starting zone in the Upper Engadine (moraine/debris rock glacier complex Boval) two-dimensional electrical resistivity surveys were used to detect the presence/absence of permafrost and to estimate active-layer depth. The results show that the moraine complex represents a periglacial debris reservoir which consists of frozen and unfrozen debris. The ice-bonded part of the moraine is largely protected from sudden destabilisation and retrogressive erosion can be assumed to be limited. However, future degradation or loss of permafrost in the lower parts of the debris rock glacier would increase the amount of erodible debris and generally reduce mechanical stability.

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11 citations in Web of Science®
14 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2007
Deposited On:20 Jul 2012 23:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:48
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:1045-6740
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ppp.593

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