UNSTABLE ALPINE PERMAFROST: A POTENTIALLY IMPORTANT NATURAL HAZARD--VARIATIONS OF GEOTECHNICAL BEHAVIOR WITH TIME AND TEMPERATURE

In Switzerland, degrading or thawing permafrost has been found to be an issue of national importance in regard to its potential for causing severe damage or even loss of life in densely populated Alpine regions due to climate change. A joint project among 3 Institutes of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, was initiated to study the effects of variations of the geotechnical behavior of Alpine permafrost with time and temperature. Six boreholes were drilled into 2 active rock glaciers in the Swiss Alps to study the behavior of this special type of frozen soil. Cores were analyzed and tested in the lab, and several field investigations were conducted in the boreholes. It was determined that permafrost degradation is a gradual process and therefore, sudden failure of the entire rock glacier may not be expected. However, in combination with increasing active layer thickness and water runoff on the permafrost table, debris flows can be triggered at the tongue and within the top layer. These debris flows can be enlarged, depending on the environment of the rock glacier forefield. Due to the air and water permeability through cavities within the rock glacier, thermal disturbances can occur causing faster movements and acceleration of the degradation of the permafrost.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

    Institute for Geotechnical Engineering
    Zurich,   Switzerland  8093
  • Authors:
    • Arenson, L U
  • Publication Date: 2003-4

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 304 p.
  • Serial:
    • Volume: 218

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00961769
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 372812883x
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 30 2003 12:00AM