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Timing of rockfalls in the Mont Blanc massif (Western Alps): evidence from surface exposure dating with cosmogenic 10Be


Gallach, Xavi; Ravanel, Ludovic; Egli, Markus; Brandová, Dagmar; Schaepman, Michael E; Christl, Marcus; Gruber, Stephan; Deline, Philip; Carcaillet, Julien; Pallandre, François (2018). Timing of rockfalls in the Mont Blanc massif (Western Alps): evidence from surface exposure dating with cosmogenic 10Be. Landslides, 15(10):1991-2000.

Abstract

Rockfalls and rock avalanches are a recurrent process in high mountain areas like the Mont Blanc massif. These processes are surveyed due to the hazard they present for infrastructure and alpinists. While rockfalls and rock avalanches have been documented for the last 150 years, we know very little about their frequency since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). In order to improve our understanding, it is imperative to date them on a longer timescale. A pilot campaign using Terrestrial Cosmogenic Nuclide (TCN) dating of five samples was carried out in 2006 at the Aiguille du Midi (3842 m a.s.l.). In 2011, a larger scale study (20 samples) was carried out in five other test sites in the Mont Blanc massif. This paper presents the exposure ages of the 2011 TCN study as well as the updated exposure ages of the 2006 study using newer TCN dating parameters. Most of these exposure ages lie within the Holocene but three ages are Pleistocene (59.87 ± 6.10 ka for the oldest). A comparison of these ages with air temperature and glacier cover proxies explored the possible relationship between the most active rockfall periods and the warmest periods of the Holocene: two clusters of exposure ages have been detected, corresponding to the Middle Holocene (8.2–4.2 ka) and the Roman Warm Period (c. 2 ka) climate periods. Some recent rockfalls have
also been dated (< 0.56 ka).

Abstract

Rockfalls and rock avalanches are a recurrent process in high mountain areas like the Mont Blanc massif. These processes are surveyed due to the hazard they present for infrastructure and alpinists. While rockfalls and rock avalanches have been documented for the last 150 years, we know very little about their frequency since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). In order to improve our understanding, it is imperative to date them on a longer timescale. A pilot campaign using Terrestrial Cosmogenic Nuclide (TCN) dating of five samples was carried out in 2006 at the Aiguille du Midi (3842 m a.s.l.). In 2011, a larger scale study (20 samples) was carried out in five other test sites in the Mont Blanc massif. This paper presents the exposure ages of the 2011 TCN study as well as the updated exposure ages of the 2006 study using newer TCN dating parameters. Most of these exposure ages lie within the Holocene but three ages are Pleistocene (59.87 ± 6.10 ka for the oldest). A comparison of these ages with air temperature and glacier cover proxies explored the possible relationship between the most active rockfall periods and the warmest periods of the Holocene: two clusters of exposure ages have been detected, corresponding to the Middle Holocene (8.2–4.2 ka) and the Roman Warm Period (c. 2 ka) climate periods. Some recent rockfalls have
also been dated (< 0.56 ka).

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
Language:English
Date:1 October 2018
Deposited On:11 Jan 2019 12:17
Last Modified:12 Jan 2019 09:22
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1612-5118
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-018-0999-8

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