Landslides, avalanches may be key to long-term comet activity

The release of gases through sublimation is the defining process of comets, but a new paper by Planetary Science Institute Research Scientist Jordan K. Steckloff and Senior Scientist Nalin H. Samarasinha says that periodic ...

The subtle mechanics of an avalanche as seen in 3-D

Drawing on the fact that the snow in an avalanche can behave like both a solid and a fluid, a young researcher at EPFL and SLF has managed to simulate a snow slab avalanche with unrivaled precision.

Mystery solved for mega-avalanches in Tibet

An international scientific effort determined the cause of a highly unusual and deadly glacier avalanche in Tibet in 2016, a new Nature Geoscience paper says.

Skiers injured by flying rocks on Japanese volcano

Twelve people, including eight soldiers, skiing on the slopes of a volcano near a famous hot spring resort in central Japan were injured Tuesday by flying rocks during a sudden eruption, officials said. One soldier later ...

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Avalanche

An avalanche is a sudden rapid flow of snow down a slope, occurring when either natural triggers or human activity causes a critical escalating transition from the slow equilibrium evolution of the snow pack. Typically occurring in mountainous terrain, an avalanche can mix air and water with the descending snow. Powerful avalanches have the capability to entrain ice, rocks, trees, and other material on the slope. Avalanches are primarily composed of flowing snow, and are distinct from mudslides, rock slides, and serac collapses on an icefall. In contrast to other natural events which can cause disasters, avalanches are not rare or random events and are endemic to any mountain range that accumulates a standing snow pack. In mountainous terrain avalanches are among the most serious objective hazards to life and property, with their destructive capability resulting from their potential to carry an enormous mass of snow rapidly over large distances.

Avalanches are classified by their morphological characteristics and are rated by either their destructive potential, or the mass of the downward flowing snow. Some of the morphological characteristics used to classify avalanches include the type of snow involved, the nature of the failure, the sliding surface, the propagation mechanism of the failure, the trigger of the avalanche, the slope angle, direction and elevation. The size of an avalanche, its mass and its destructive potential are rated on a logarithmic scale, typically of 5 categories, with the precise definition of the categories depending on the observation system or forecast region.

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