Influences of snow cover on thermal and mechanical processes in steep permafrost rock walls (ISPR)

In this project in cooperation with the SLF (Snow and Avalanche Research, Davos) we use regular LiDAR, borehole and crackmeter data, piezometers in fractures, extensometers and real (electrical and seismical) 3D-geophysics, nanoseismics and infrared thermal photography to understand the influence of snow accumulations on thermal and mechanical processes in steep permafrost rockwalls. This data feed into the development of an UDEC (Universal Distinct Element Code) mechanical and hydraulic underground model of fractured rock walls.


Permafrost and snow melt water infiltration causes enhanced cryostatic and hydrostatic pressure regimes that may control mechanical processes and also rapid melting events along fractures. Here we try to combine thermal, mechanical and geophysical expertise from four different research facilities (also Universities of Zurich and Fribourg) for an enhanced understanding and prediction of rock slope failure in high mountains.

Internal response: M. Krautblatter (TUM), German Research Foundation
External forcing: M. Phillips (SLF Davos), Swiss National Science Foundation