Rock avalanches are large flow-like movements of fragmented rock that can cause extensive and rapid topographic changes, for which very few quantitative data are available. This paper analyses the geomorphological and hydrological impact of the 3 million m^3 Thurwieser rock avalanche (2004, Italian Central Alps) by using Terrestrial Laser Scanner, airborne Lidar and GNSS data collected from 2005 to 2014. Sediment yield with respect to the normal valley regime, the dynamic and mass balance of affected glaciers, and the reorganization of superficial and groundwater flow networks are quantified. In the middle portion of the avalanche deposit, a natural sediment trap collected sediments from a new stream channel developed along the upper portion of the deposit and from a lateral drainage basin. This made possible to assess the 10-year impact of the rock avalanche on the sediment yield, which increased from about 120 to about 400 t km^-2·a-1.The rock avalanche partially covered a glacier with a shallow debris layer that acted as a thermal insulator, limiting ice ablation and producing a 10-m high scarp between the free surface of the glacier and the debris-covered portion. A reduction of 75% of ice ablation was observed due to thermal insulation. The rock avalanche filled a tributary valley, splitting the original drainage basin in two. Under ordinary flows, seepage occurs within the avalanche deposit along the old valley axis. During high flow conditions, a new stream channel is activated along the middle and lower margin of the deposit, which has produced a new alluvial fan on the main valley floor. The fan evolution is described up to the present volume of about 2000 m^3.

Rock-avalanche geomorphological and hydrological impact on an alpine watershed

SCOTTI, RICCARDO;BRARDINONI, FRANCESCO;
2016

Abstract

Rock avalanches are large flow-like movements of fragmented rock that can cause extensive and rapid topographic changes, for which very few quantitative data are available. This paper analyses the geomorphological and hydrological impact of the 3 million m^3 Thurwieser rock avalanche (2004, Italian Central Alps) by using Terrestrial Laser Scanner, airborne Lidar and GNSS data collected from 2005 to 2014. Sediment yield with respect to the normal valley regime, the dynamic and mass balance of affected glaciers, and the reorganization of superficial and groundwater flow networks are quantified. In the middle portion of the avalanche deposit, a natural sediment trap collected sediments from a new stream channel developed along the upper portion of the deposit and from a lateral drainage basin. This made possible to assess the 10-year impact of the rock avalanche on the sediment yield, which increased from about 120 to about 400 t km^-2·a-1.The rock avalanche partially covered a glacier with a shallow debris layer that acted as a thermal insulator, limiting ice ablation and producing a 10-m high scarp between the free surface of the glacier and the debris-covered portion. A reduction of 75% of ice ablation was observed due to thermal insulation. The rock avalanche filled a tributary valley, splitting the original drainage basin in two. Under ordinary flows, seepage occurs within the avalanche deposit along the old valley axis. During high flow conditions, a new stream channel is activated along the middle and lower margin of the deposit, which has produced a new alluvial fan on the main valley floor. The fan evolution is described up to the present volume of about 2000 m^3.
Frattini, P; Riva, F.; Crosta, G. B.; Scotti, Riccardo; Greggio, L.; Brardinoni, Francesco; Fusi, N.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/584466
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