Avalanches and earthquakes: their analogy


A study conducted by the Lausanne Polytechnic and the Davos Institute states that the physics of avalanches and earthquakes are very similar. A team of researchers was able to affirm this thanks to computer simulations and the analysis of natural events published in articles in prestigious sector journals. The results of the study will allow a better assessment of the risks related to these events. Every year they cause accidents and fatalities compared to other natural disasters.

This is how avalanches form: a denser slab of snow on top of a weaker layer. The avalanche is activated when the weak layer collapses and therefore there is no more support by widening the fracture. This mechanism is based on plates less than 2 meters long, but if you increase the size of the plates, the fracture expands. The expansion goes beyond 3-5 meters, the enlargement speed exceeds 100 meters per second. This phenomenon is similar to rare high-magnitude earthquakes.

The study confirmed the results from four avalanches. They demonstrated the fracture propagation mechanism . It transforms in a way that is directly proportional to its size. Such research will help in the simplification of computerized models of avalanches. In addition, with a reduction in calculation times from several days to a few minutes.



  • There is an affinity between avalanches and earthquakes (


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