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The consequences of glacial debuttressing in deglaciated areas: evidence from field data and cosmogenic datings

By Etienne Cossart, Regis BRAUCHER, Monique Fort, D. Bourles and J. Carcaillet

Abstract

International audienceThe Upper Durance catchment is an area prone to rock-slope failures. Such failures reflect the combination of high relief, lithostructural controls and paraglacial stress release. The aim of this study is to determine the role of deglacial unloading and resulting paraglacial stress release in conditioning or triggering slope failure. Former dimensions of the Durance glacier are reconstructed, then combined with Digital Elevation Model data in a raster Geographic Information System to quantify the spatial pattern of stresses associated with glacial loading at the Last Glacial Maximum. Preliminary calculations suggest that major rock falls and rock avalanches are associated with areas subject to the highest decompression stresses. Focus on two case studies allows the consequences of paraglacial stress release on slope instability to be evaluated. Description of slope failure runout deposits allows reconstruction of the nature of slope failure. Surface exposure dates based on concentration of cosmogenic 10Be allows the timing of both deglaciation and that of post-glacial rock-slope failures to be established. It is shown that rock-slope failures are concentrated on lower valley-side slopes within the area occupied by ice at the Last Glacial Maximum, and that their locations coincide with zones of inferred high glacial loading stress, consistent with interpretation of both bedrock disruption and large-scale rock-slope failures as paraglacial phenomena induced by stress release following deglaciation. Timing of initial rock avalanche runout deposition at one site is consistent with this conclusion, though later instability episodes at the same site may have occurred independent of the influence of paraglacial stress release

Topics: French Alps, Late Glacial, Stress release, Cosmogenic nuclides, Paraglacial, Rock-slope failure, Glacial debuttressing, [ SHS.GEO ] Humanities and Social Sciences/Geography
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:hal-00545259v1
Provided by: Hal-Diderot
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