International Journal of Fracture

, Volume 187, Issue 2, pp 277–283 | Cite as

The unacknowledged risk of Himalayan avalanches triggering

Original Paper

Abstract

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 (http://nsidc.org/data/glacier_inventory/browse.html, 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.

Keywords

Avalanche Triggering Size-effects 

References

  1. Bazant ZP, Zi G, McClung D (2003) Size effect law and fracture mechanics of the triggering of dry snow slab avalanches. J Geophys Res 108:13-1–13-11Google Scholar
  2. Carpinteri A, Pugno N (2005) Are scaling laws on strength of solids related to mechanics or to geometry? Nat Mater 4:421–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chiaia BM, Cornetti P, Frigo B (2008) Triggering of dry snow slab avalanches: stress versus fracture mechanical approach. Cold Reg Sci Technol 53:170–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kostantinidis A, Cornetti P, Pugno N, Aifantis E (2009) Application of gradient theory and quantized fracture mechanics in snow avalanches. J Mech Behav Mater 19:39–47Google Scholar
  5. McClung DM (1979) Shear fracture precipitated by strain softening as a mechanism of dry slab avalanche release. J Geophys Res 84:3519–3526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Palmer AC, Rice JR (1973) The growth of slip surfaces in the progressive failure of overconsolidated clay. Proc R Soc Lond A332:527–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Pugno N (2006) Dynamic quantized fracture mechanics. Int J Fract 140:159–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Pugno N (2007) A general shape/size-effect law for nanoindentation. Acta Materialia 55:1947–1953CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Pugno N, Carpinteri A (2003) Tubular adhesive joints under axial load. J Appl Mech 70:832–839CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pugno N, Konstantinidis A, Cornetti,P, Aifantis EC (2011) Erratum (on A. Konstantinidis, P. Cornetti, N. Pugno and E.C. Aifantis, Application of gradient theory and quantized fracture mechanics in snow avalanches, J. of the Mechanical Behaviour of Materials 19, 39–47, 2009). J Mech Behav Mater 20:107–109Google Scholar
  11. Pugno N, Caresio G, Mondinelli S (2013) Critical factors for Himalayan avalanches—an investigation prompted by the 2012 Manaslu tragedy. Alp J 150:128–137Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations