International Journal of Fracture

, Volume 187, Issue 2, pp 277–283

The unacknowledged risk of Himalayan avalanches triggering

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10704-014-9939-3

Cite this article as:
Pugno, N.M. Int J Fract (2014) 187: 277. doi:10.1007/s10704-014-9939-3


A “universal” model for avalanche triggering, as well as for collapse of suspended seracs, is presented based on Quantized Fracture Mechanics, considering fracture, friction, adhesion and cohesion. It unifies and extends the classical previous approaches reported in the literature, including the role of the slope curvature. A new size-effect, that on mountain height rather than the classical one on snow slab thickness, is also discussed and demonstrated thanks to glaciers data analysis from the World Glacier Inventory (, 2014). The related most noteworthy result is that snow precipitation needed to trigger avalanches at 8,000 m could be up to 4 times, with a realistic value of 1.7 times, smaller than at 4,000 m. This super-strong size-effect may suggest that the risk of Himalayan avalanches is today still unacknowledged. A discussion on the recent Manaslu tragedy concludes the paper.



Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Bio-Inspired and Graphene Nanomechanics, Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Center for Materials and MicrosystemsPovo (Trento)Italy
  3. 3.School of Engineering and Materials ScienceQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK