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INSTABILITY OF A HIGH ALPINE ROCK RIDGE: THE LOWER ARÊTE DES COSMIQUES, MONT BLANC MASSIF, FRANCE

By Ludovic Ravanel, Philip Deline, Christophe Lambiel and Christian Vincent

Abstract

doi:10.1111/geoa.12000 ABSTRACT. Rockfalls are dominant in the rock slopes and rock ridge morphodynamics in high mountain areas and endanger people who pass along or stay there, as well as infrastructure that host them (cable cars, refuges). Risks are probably greater now because of fast permafrost degradation and regression of surface ice, two consequences of the atmospheric warming of the last decades. These two commonly associated factors are involved in the instability of rock slopes by modifying the mechanical behaviour of often ice-filled rock fractures and the mechanical constraints in the rock masses. This paper examines over 15 years the instability of the lower Arête des Cosmiques on the French side of the Mont Blanc massif. Its vulnerability is due to the presence of a high-capacity refuge on its top (3613 m a.s.l.). In 1998, a part of the refuge was left without support when a collapse of 600 m 3 occurred immediately below it. Since this date, reinforcement work has been carried out in this area, but the whole ridge has been affected by around 15 relatively shallow rockfalls. Through a multidisciplinary approach, this article assesses the role of the cryospheric factors in the triggering of these rockfalls. Key words: high alpine rock slopes, rockfalls, permafrost, glacier shrinkage, hazards, mountain infrastructure, Mon

Topics: Blanc massif
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1111/geoa.12000
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.299.2157
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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