, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1493–1507 | Cite as

A robust debris-flow and GLOF risk management strategy for a data-scarce catchment in Santa Teresa, Peru

  • Holger FreyEmail author
  • Christian Huggel
  • Yves Bühler
  • Daniel Buis
  • Maria Dulce Burga
  • Walter Choquevilca
  • Felipe Fernandez
  • Javier García Hernández
  • Claudia Giráldez
  • Edwin Loarte
  • Paul Masias
  • Cesar Portocarrero
  • Luis Vicuña
  • Marco Walser
Original Paper


The town of Santa Teresa (Cusco Region, Peru) has been affected by several large debris-flow events in the recent past, which destroyed parts of the town and resulted in a resettlement of the municipality. Here, we present a risk analysis and a risk management strategy for debris-flows and glacier lake outbursts in the Sacsara catchment. Data scarcity and limited understanding of both physical and social processes impede a full quantitative risk assessment. Therefore, a bottom-up approach is chosen in order to establish an integrated risk management strategy that is robust against uncertainties in the risk analysis. With the Rapid Mass Movement Simulation (RAMMS) model, a reconstruction of a major event from 1998 in the Sacsara catchment is calculated, including a sensitivity analysis for various model parameters. Based on the simulation results, potential future debris-flows scenarios of different magnitudes, including outbursts of two glacier lakes, are modeled for assessing the hazard. For the local communities in the catchment, the hazard assessment is complemented by the analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery and fieldwork. Physical, social, economic, and institutional vulnerability are considered for the vulnerability assessment, and risk is eventually evaluated by crossing the local hazard maps with the vulnerability. Based on this risk analysis, a risk management strategy is developed, consisting of three complementing elements: (i) standardized risk sheets for the communities; (ii) activities with the local population and authorities to increase social and institutional preparedness; and (iii) a simple Early Warning System. By combining scientific, technical, and social aspects, this work is an example of a framework for an integrated risk management strategy in a data scarce, remote mountain catchment in a developing country.


Debris-flows GLOF RAMMS Risk management Early Warning System 



All the work presented in this study is part of the activities of the “Proyecto Glaciares,” funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), executed by the University of Zurich and Swiss partner institutions, in close collaboration with CARE Peru. We acknowledge the comments and suggestions from the Editor S. Cuomo and the reviews of P. Bobrowsky and an anonymous reviewer, which helped improving the article. K. Price from CARE Peru provided valuable comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10346_2015_669_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1050 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holger Frey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Huggel
    • 1
  • Yves Bühler
    • 2
  • Daniel Buis
    • 1
  • Maria Dulce Burga
    • 3
  • Walter Choquevilca
    • 4
  • Felipe Fernandez
    • 4
  • Javier García Hernández
    • 5
  • Claudia Giráldez
    • 1
  • Edwin Loarte
    • 6
  • Paul Masias
    • 7
  • Cesar Portocarrero
    • 8
  • Luis Vicuña
    • 1
  • Marco Walser
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLFDavosSwitzerland
  3. 3.Instituto de Ciencias de la Naturaleza, Territorio y Energías Renovables (INTE)Pontificia Universidad Católica del PerúLimaPeru
  4. 4.CARE PeruCuscoPeru
  5. 5.Centre de Recherche sur l’Environnement Alpin (CREALP)SionSwitzerland
  6. 6.Department of GeographyUniversity of ValenciaValènciaSpain
  7. 7.Corporación RD SLRCuscoPeru
  8. 8.HuarazPeru

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