Measurement of crack-face friction in collapsed weak snow layers

The results indicate that crack-face friction in collapsed weak layers is far from negligible

A. van Herwijnen

2009

Scholarcy highlights

  • In this letter we analyze the frictional contact forces during and immediately after the collapse of a weak snowpack layer, when the sliding plane consists of the freshly collapsed and crushed, but not yet eroded granular debris of the weak layer
  • Field measurements were carried out in order to determine the amount of friction of a freshly debonded slab on a bed of weak layer debris, during and immediately after the collapse of the weak layer
  • The results indicate that crack-face friction in collapsed weak layers is far from negligible
  • The friction data presented in this letter showed no dependance on grain type of the weak layer
  • It is still possible that friction depends on snow stratigraphy, in particular on the grain type and hardness of the weak layer as well as the layer above and below it
  • An important implication of our findings is that the minimum angle for avalanche release does not depend on shear strength, as is often thought, but results from crackface friction which comes into play only as the fracture through the weak layer is already propagating

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