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A massive rock and ice avalanche caused the 2021 disaster at Chamoli, Indian Himalaya


Shugar, D H; Jacquemart, Mylène; Shean, D; Bhushan, S; et al; Sattar, A; Allen, S; Frey, Holger; Huggel, Christian; Paul, Frank (2021). A massive rock and ice avalanche caused the 2021 disaster at Chamoli, Indian Himalaya. Science, 373(6552):300-306.

Abstract

On 7 February 2021, a catastrophic mass flow descended the Ronti Gad, Rishiganga, and Dhauliganga valleys in Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India, causing widespread devastation and severely damaging two hydropower projects. More than 200 people were killed or are missing. Our analysis of satellite imagery, seismic records, numerical model results, and eyewitness videos reveals that ~27 × 10$^{6}$ cubic meters of rock and glacier ice collapsed from the steep north face of Ronti Peak. The rock and ice avalanche rapidly transformed into an extraordinarily large and mobile debris flow that transported boulders greater than 20 meters in diameter and scoured the valley walls up to 220 meters above the valley floor. The intersection of the hazard cascade with downvalley infrastructure resulted in a disaster, which highlights key questions about adequate monitoring and sustainable development in the Himalaya as well as other remote, high-mountain environments.

Abstract

On 7 February 2021, a catastrophic mass flow descended the Ronti Gad, Rishiganga, and Dhauliganga valleys in Chamoli, Uttarakhand, India, causing widespread devastation and severely damaging two hydropower projects. More than 200 people were killed or are missing. Our analysis of satellite imagery, seismic records, numerical model results, and eyewitness videos reveals that ~27 × 10$^{6}$ cubic meters of rock and glacier ice collapsed from the steep north face of Ronti Peak. The rock and ice avalanche rapidly transformed into an extraordinarily large and mobile debris flow that transported boulders greater than 20 meters in diameter and scoured the valley walls up to 220 meters above the valley floor. The intersection of the hazard cascade with downvalley infrastructure resulted in a disaster, which highlights key questions about adequate monitoring and sustainable development in the Himalaya as well as other remote, high-mountain environments.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:16 July 2021
Deposited On:27 Aug 2021 12:59
Last Modified:28 Aug 2021 20:01
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science
ISSN:0036-8075
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abh4455
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID200021_184634
  • : Project TitleProcess-based modelling of global glacier changes (PROGGRES)
  • : FunderSwiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
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  • : FunderICIMOD
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  • : FunderCentre national d’études spatiales
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  • : FunderCentre national d’études spatiales
  • : Grant ID
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  • : Funder•Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Government of the Federal Republic of Germany
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  • : FunderDepartment of Science and Technology, Government of India
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