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Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 7, pp 1515–1533 | Cite as

Characteristics of mountain glacier surge hazard: learning from a surge event in NE Pamir, China

  • Xin YaoEmail author
  • Javed IqbalEmail author
  • Ling-jing Li
  • Zheng-kai Zhou
Article
  • 21 Downloads

Abstract

Abnormal glacier movement is likely to result in canyon-type hazards chain, such as the barrier lake of Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon formed by glacier debris flow in October 2018 in China. Glacier hazard usually evolves from the glacier surge and may occur in a regular cycle. Understanding the characteristics and process of glacier surge is important for early hazard recognition and hazard assessment. Based on field investigations, remote sensing interpretations and SAR offset-tracking surveys, this study confirms a typical glacier surge in the northeast Pamir, and presents its characteristics and processes. “Black ice” mixed moraines choking uplift and overflowing lateral marine are the most important scenic characteristics, which were formed under the conditions of stagnant glacier downstream and abundant super-glacial moraine. Glacier movement event can be divided into a five-period cycle including quiescent, inoculation, initiation, fracture and decline. This surge event lasted for about 300 days, initiated in February 2015 developed extensive fracturing zone in spring and early summer at maximum velocity of 10±0.95 m/day, declined after August 2015 and recovered to quiescent status in October 2015 for the next inoculation. The average height of glacier “receiving” area increased by 20–40 m with 2.7–3.6×108 m3 ice transferred from glacier “reservoir”, and this volume accumulation again require 50–100 years for glacier mass balance which gives approximately 100 years frequency of the glacier surge. Nevertheless, long-period increase of precipitation and temperature were favorable for the occurrence, hydrological instability is the direct triggering mechanism, and while the Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) hazards are unlikely to occur with this surge.

Keywords

Glacier surges Moraine Glacier hazards Mountain glacier Glacier monitoring Offset-tracking SAR 

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Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFC1505002), CGS Research Fund (JYYWF20181501), National Natural Science Foundation of China (41672359) and Chinese Academy of Sciences President’s International Fellowship Initiative (grant No. 2018PC0009). One of our manuscript submitted but not considered for publication in “The Cryosphere” and later withdrawn, contains some contents which also appear in this paper. We extend our thanks to Prof. XU Baiqing for providing the information of temperature and rainfall. We are also thankful to handling editor and anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments which greatly helped to improve the original manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Active Tectonic and Crustal Stability Assessment; Institute of GeomechanicsChinese Academy of Geological SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesAbbottabad University of Science and TechnologyPeshawar, KPKPakistan
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Mountain Hazards and Surface Processes, Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina

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