Snow avalanche energy estimation from seismic signal analysis
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- NGI articles 
Original versionCold Regions Science and Technology, Vol. 50, No. 1-3, pp. 72-85.
A method to determine the dissipated seismic energy into the ground by a down going avalanche is presented. Evaluation of the seismic energy is useful for avalanche size classification, model validation, and for characterization and better understanding of the avalanche evolution as it propagates downhill along the changing slope. The method was applied to two different type avalanches that were released artificially on 2004/02/28 and 2005/04/15 at Ryggfonn (Norway) avalanche experimental site, operated by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI). The analysed seismic data were recorded by the University of Barcelona seismic instruments consisting of two three-component wide-range seismometers located respectively, in the middle and on the side of the avalanche path. The energy determination requires a priori seismic characterization of the site and the knowledge of the avalanche front speed. In this paper a seismic characterization (surface wave phase velocity and amplitude attenuation factor) of the Ryggfonn site is presented. This characterization will serve for subsequent studies. We attribute the main source of seismic signals for the studied events to basal friction and ploughing occurring at the avalanche front and related to the changing slope in the propagation path, which causes high seismic energy dissipation. A comparative study of the evolution of the dissipated seismic energy with the energy generated by a simple sliding block model of constant mass was performed. The observed differences highlight the importance of ploughing and basal friction and the specific characteristics of the avalanches, such as their length and type. The difference between the calculated total dissipated seismic energy for the two similar size avalanches reflects their different flow type. As expected, the dry/mixed event dissipates a smaller amount of energy (∼ 1.2 MJ) than the dry/dense event (∼ 2.8 MJ).