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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Snow avalanche penetration into mature forest Anderson, Geoff K.


Clear cut logging in the mountainous terrain in British Columbia, Canada, is creating new snow avalanche start zones. These areas are capable of producing avalanches sufficient in size that they can penetrate into and destroy mature forest cover. The presence of these logging cut-blocks can augment the destructive potential of previously existing avalanche paths as well as create new avalanche start zones. Forest penetrating avalanches can pose a significant risk to down-slope structures and resources. In this thesis, the first database containing information on penetration distances and lateral spread for avalanches that penetrate forest cover is developed. The study area for this research spans the Southern Coast and Columbia Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. The analysis is focused on terrain characteristics that are related to forest penetration and the resultant destruction of mature standing forest. Physical terrain and vegetation characteristics in the avalanche starting zone, track, and runout zone of 45 forest penetrating avalanches are described, measured, and parameterized. The results provide predictive tools to assess probable avalanche runout distances, and the lateral spread of potential avalanche paths that contain forest in the track or runout zone.

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