Articles | Volume 72, issue 4
07 Dec 2017
Standard article | 07 Dec 2017
A study of the Würm glaciation focused on the Valais region (Alps)
Patrick Becker et al.
Patrick Becker, Julien Seguinot, Guillaume Jouvet, and Martin Funk
Geogr. Helv., 71, 173–187,
Małgorzata Chmiel, Fabian Walter, Lukas Preiswerk, Martin Funk, Lorenz Meier, and Florent Brenguier
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,
Preprint withdrawnShort summary
The hanging glacier on Switzerland’s Mount Eiger regularly produces ice avalanches which threaten tourist activity and nearby infrastructure. Reliable forecasting remains a challenge as physical processes leading to ice rupture are not fully understood yet. We propose a new method for hanging glacier monitoring using repeating englacial seismic signals. Our approach allows monitoring temperature and meltwater driven changes occurring in the hanging glacier at seasonal and diurnal timescales.
Eef C. H. van Dongen, Guillaume Jouvet, Shin Sugiyama, Evgeny A. Podolskiy, Martin Funk, Douglas I. Benn, Fabian Lindner, Andreas Bauder, Julien Seguinot, Silvan Leinss, and Fabian Walter
The Cryosphere, 15, 485–500,Short summary
The dynamic mass loss of tidewater glaciers is strongly linked to glacier calving. We study calving mechanisms under a thinning regime, based on 5 years of field and remote-sensing data of Bowdoin Glacier. Our data suggest that Bowdoin Glacier ungrounded recently, and its calving behaviour changed from calving due to surface crevasses to buoyancy-induced calving resulting from basal crevasses. This change may be a precursor to glacier retreat.
Guillaume Jouvet, Stefan Röllin, Hans Sahli, José Corcho, Lars Gnägi, Loris Compagno, Dominik Sidler, Margit Schwikowski, Andreas Bauder, and Martin Funk
The Cryosphere, 14, 4233–4251,Short summary
We show that plutonium is an effective tracer to identify ice originating from the early 1960s at the surface of a mountain glacier after a long time within the ice flow, giving unique information on the long-term former ice motion. Combined with ice flow modelling, the dating can be extended to the entire glacier, and we show that an airplane which crash-landed on the Gauligletscher in 1946 will likely soon be released from the ice close to the place where pieces have emerged in recent years.
Jérome Faillettaz, Martin Funk, Jan Beutel, and Andreas Vieli
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 1399–1413,Short summary
We developed a new strategy for real-time early warning of gravity-driven slope failures (such as landslides, rockfalls, glacier break-off, etc.). This method enables us to investigate natural slope stability based on continuous monitoring and interpretation of seismic waves generated by the potential instability. Thanks to a pilot experiment, we detected typical patterns of precursory events prior to slide events, demonstrating the potential of this method for real-word applications.
Julien Seguinot, Susan Ivy-Ochs, Guillaume Jouvet, Matthias Huss, Martin Funk, and Frank Preusser
The Cryosphere, 12, 3265–3285,Short summary
About 25 000 years ago, Alpine glaciers filled most of the valleys and even extended onto the plains. In this study, with help from traces left by glaciers on the landscape, we use a computer model that contains knowledge of glacier physics based on modern observations of Greenland and Antarctica and laboratory experiments on ice, and one of the fastest computers in the world, to attempt a reconstruction of the evolution of Alpine glaciers through time from 120 000 years ago to today.
Guillaume Jouvet, Yvo Weidmann, Julien Seguinot, Martin Funk, Takahiro Abe, Daiki Sakakibara, Hakime Seddik, and Shin Sugiyama
The Cryosphere, 11, 911–921,Short summary
In this study, we combine UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) images taken over the Bowdoin Glacier, north-western Greenland, and a model describing the viscous motion of ice to track the propagation of crevasses responsible for the collapse of large icebergs at the glacier-ocean front (calving). This new technique allows us to explain the systematic calving pattern observed in spring and summer of 2015 and anticipate a possible rapid retreat in the future.
Patrick Becker, Julien Seguinot, Guillaume Jouvet, and Martin Funk
Geogr. Helv., 71, 173–187,
Jérome Faillettaz, Martin Funk, and Marco Vagliasindi
The Cryosphere, 10, 1191–1200,Short summary
The break-off of a cold hanging glacier could be successfully predicted 10 days in advance thanks to very accurate surface displacement measurements taken right up to the final event. This break-off event also confirmed that surface displacements experience a power law acceleration along with superimposed log-periodic oscillations prior to the final rupture. This paper describes the methods used to achieve a satisfactory time forecast in real time.
Related subject area
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Emmanuel Reynard, Tarek Ben Fraj, Aziza Ghram Messedi, Hédi Ben Ouezdou, Mohamed Ouaja, and Yves Matthijs
Geogr. Helv., 77, 97–119,Short summary
The study is a geomorphological analysis of Djebel Dahar, in south-eastern Tunisia, carried out as the basis for a UNESCO Global Geopark. We made a synthesis of the geographical, geological and geomorphological context of the area, proposed a delimitation for the future geopark, based on geological and geomorphological characteristics, and established a preliminary list of geosites, indicating their scientific value and their potential for geotourism.
Heidi Megerle, Simon Martin, and Géraldine Regolini
Geogr. Helv., 77, 53–66,Short summary
In the field of regional geo-heritage promotion, this paper presents some opportunities, challenges and risks for geotope protection and geotourism.
Brice Prudat, Wolfgang Fister, Lena Bloemertz, Juliane Krenz, and Nikolaus J. Kuhn
Geogr. Helv., 77, 39–51,Short summary
Soil quality depends on water availability for plants. Sandy soils with a poorly permeable layer (fragipan) are considered inept for agriculture. However they are cultivated in Namibia as they secure a minimum harvest during droughts. In order to understand the hydrological influence of fragipans in these soils, soil moisture content was measured. The results illustrate that the combination of sandy topsoil and shallow fragipan has beneficial effects on plant-available water during dry periods.
Alessandro De Pedrini, Christian Ambrosi, and Cristian Scapozza
Geogr. Helv., 77, 21–37,Short summary
The Monte Crenone rock avalanche of 1513 is well known on the southern side of the Alps because in 1515 it generated the largest inundation that has occurred in Switzerland in the Common Era, the Buzza di Biasca. New geological and historical observations allowed the setup of a numerical model of this major event, permitting a better definition of the chain of consequences that affected the alluvial plain of the river Ticino from Biasca to Lake Maggiore between the 16th and the 19th century.
Dorota Czerski, Daphné Giacomazzi, and Cristian Scapozza
Geogr. Helv., 77, 1–20,Short summary
The paper presents the results of recent geoarchaeological studies on the Ticino river alluvial plain. The sedimentological descriptions are combined with archaeological observations and constrained with radiocarbon dating. This approach, together with data from previous research and historical sources, provides an interesting overview of the eveolution of Ticino river morphosedimentary dynamics in relation to human settlements since the Neolithic.
Cristian Scapozza, Chantal Del Siro, Christophe Lambiel, and Christian Ambrosi
Geogr. Helv., 76, 401–423,Short summary
Exposure ages make it possible to determine the time of weathering of a rock surface. They can be determined from rebound values measured with the Schmidt hammer and calibrated on surfaces of known age, defined in this study thanks to historical cartography and two mule tracks built in 300 and 1250 CE, which allowed us to reconstruct glacier fluctuations over the last 3 centuries in Val Scaradra and to define the time of deglaciation and rock glacier development in the Splügenpass region.
Jonathan Bussard and Elisa Giaccone
Geogr. Helv., 76, 385–399,Short summary
In mountain environments, active geomorphological processes have a strong influence on plant diversity because they act as renovators for habitats of pioneer species. In this paper, we propose criteria to assess the ecological value of dynamic mountain geomorphosites. We show that the interest of plant communities and the influence of geomorphological processes on plant communities are fundamental criteria for assessing ecological value in an exhaustive and objective way.
Philip Greenwood, Jan Bauer, and Nikolaus J. Kuhn
Geogr. Helv., 76, 319–333,Short summary
Soil erosion by wind and water is a commonly recognized phenomenon on agricultural land. Erosion in forests is studied less and generally considered to be limited because of the soil protection by vegetation. However, trees, when toppled because of old age or wind, loosen a considerable amount of soil when their roots are pulled from the ground. In addition, the holes left in the ground act as collectors for water and concentrated runoff, causing significant soil loss on forested slopes.
Cristian Scapozza, Christian Ambrosi, Massimiliano Cannata, and Tazio Strozzi
Geogr. Helv., 74, 125–139,Short summary
A glacial lake outburst flood hazard assessment by satellite Earth observation and numerical modelling was done for the lakes linked to the Thangothang Chhu glacier, Chomolhari area (Bhutan), combining detailed geomorphological mapping, landslide and rock glacier inventories, as well as surface displacements quantified by satellite InSAR. Outburst scenario modelling revealed that only a flood wave can have an impact on the two human settlements located downslope of the glacier.
Philippe Burkhalter, Markus Egli, and Holger Gärtner
Geogr. Helv., 74, 93–103,Short summary
A spatiotemporal reconstruction of slope movements on the edge of Lake Lucerne near the municipality of Horw, canton of Lucerne is presented. The reconstruction was realized by analyzing growth reactions of beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and fir (Abies alba Mill.) trees growing on this slope. Results show that the area has been moving at least since 1948. A significant concentration of events was observed between 1990 and 2000 as well as after 2006.
Sebastián Vivero and Christophe Lambiel
Geogr. Helv., 74, 59–69,
Mario Kummert and Reynald Delaloye
Geogr. Helv., 73, 357–371,
Max Boxleitner, Susan Ivy-Ochs, Dagmar Brandova, Marcus Christl, Markus Egli, and Max Maisch
Geogr. Helv., 73, 241–252,
Patrick Becker, Julien Seguinot, Guillaume Jouvet, and Martin Funk
Geogr. Helv., 71, 173–187,
Frank Techel, Frédéric Jarry, Georg Kronthaler, Susanna Mitterer, Patrick Nairz, Miha Pavšek, Mauro Valt, and Gian Darms
Geogr. Helv., 71, 147–159,Short summary
During the last 45 years, about 100 people lost their lives in avalanches in the European Alps each year. Avalanche fatalities in settlements and on transportation corridors have considerably decreased since the 1970s. In contrast, the number of avalanche fatalities during recreational activities away from avalanche-secured terrain doubled between the 1960s and 1980s and has remained relatively stable since, despite a continuing strong increase in winter backcountry recreational activities.
Rachel Luethi and Marcia Phillips
Geogr. Helv., 71, 121–131,Short summary
Long-term borehole temperature monitoring in mountain permafrost environments is challenging under the hostile conditions reigning there. On the basis of data measured in the SLF borehole network we show situations where ground temperature data should be interpreted with caution. A selection of recently observed problems are discussed, and advantages and possible drawbacks of various solutions including data correction, measurement redundancy or alternate instrumentation are presented.
P. Greenwood, M. Hoelzle, and N. J. Kuhn
Geogr. Helv., 70, 311–313,Short summary
Editorial introducing the special issue of Geographica Helvetica: Mapping, Measuring and Modeling in Geomorphology.
C. Willi, C. Graf, Y. Deubelbeiss, and M. Keiler
Geogr. Helv., 70, 265–279,Short summary
The erosion of and depositions on channel bed surfaces are instrumental to understanding debris flow processes. We present different methods and highlight their pro and cons. Terrestrial and airborne laser scanning, erosion sensors, cross sections and geomorphological mapping are compared. Two of these approaches are tested and applied in a torrent. The results indicate that the methods are associated with variable temporal and spatial resolution as well as data quality and invested effort.
S. Müller and D. Schaub
Geogr. Helv., 70, 193–198,
L. Xiao, Y. Hu, P. Greenwood, and N. J. Kuhn
Geogr. Helv., 70, 167–174,
Geogr. Helv., 70, 135–139,Short summary
In the scientific literature, “protalus ramparts” can designate both a nivo-gravitational landform (also called “pronival ramparts”) and a permafrost-related landform. Thanks to a selection of eight major diagnostic criteria defined from observations carried out in the Swiss Alps, it was highlighted that the structure, ice content and creep dynamics of protalus ramparts are the same as many rock glaciers. Protalus rampart were therefore defined simply as a (small) active talus rock glacier.
C. Ambrosi and C. Scapozza
Geogr. Helv., 70, 121–133,Short summary
Some examples of 3-D digital mapping for Quaternary geological and geomorphological cartography are presented in this paper. Examples concern in particular the Quaternary geological cartography around the well-know Flims rockslide area (Graubünden), performed in the framework of the GeoCover project launched by the Swiss Geological Survey, and the landslide and glacial/periglacial landform mapping and inventorying in the southern Swiss Alps (Ticino) for assessing the slope tectonic activity.
B. Staub, A. Marmy, C. Hauck, C. Hilbich, and R. Delaloye
Geogr. Helv., 70, 45–62,
P. Greenwood, S. Kuonen, W. Fister, and N. J. Kuhn
Geogr. Helv., 70, 63–73,Short summary
Alpine and mountain slopes represent important pathways that link high-altitude grazing areas to meadows and rangelands at lower elevations. Given the acute gradients associated with such environments, we hypothesize that terracettes act as efficient runoff conveyance routes that facilitate the movement of runoff and associated material during erosion events. This hypothesis was partially disproved during a series of rainfall/runoff simulations on a well-developed terracette system, however.
M. Stähli, C. Graf, C. Scheidl, C. R. Wyss, and A. Volkwein
Geogr. Helv., 70, 1–9,
M. Hoelzle and E. Reynard
Geogr. Helv., 68, 225–226,
M. Huss, A. Voinesco, and M. Hoelzle
Geogr. Helv., 68, 227–237,
R. Weingartner, B. Schädler, and P. Hänggi
Geogr. Helv., 68, 239–248,
P. Michna, W. Eugster, R. V. Hiller, M. J. Zeeman, and H. Wanner
Geogr. Helv., 68, 249–263,
S. Schneider, S. Daengeli, C. Hauck, and M. Hoelzle
Geogr. Helv., 68, 265–280,
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This article studies the ice flow in the Valais region during the last glaciation (Würm) in detail. The numerical modelling shows a discrepancy of the height of the ice cap compared to the geomorphological evidence based on trimlines. However, geomorphological evidence at the Simplon Pass indicating an ice flow from the Rhone valley into the valley of Toce was confirmed. Furthermore it is shown that for this confirmation a sufficient ice thickness is obligatory.
This article studies the ice flow in the Valais region during the last glaciation (Würm) in...