Inferences on flow mechanisms from snow avalanche deposits
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- NGI articles 
The deposit structure of 20 very small to large avalanches that occurred in the Davos area, eastern Swiss Alps, during winters 2004/05 and 2005/06 was investigated. Snow-cover entrainment was significant in the majority of events and likely to have occurred in all cases. Evidence was found both for plough-like frontal entrainment (especially in wet-snow avalanches) and more gradual erosion along the base of dry-snow avalanches. Several of the dry-snow avalanches, both small and large, showed a fairly abrupt decrease in deposit thickness in the distal direction, often accompanied by changes in the granulometry and the deposit density. Combined with other observations (snow plastered onto tree trunks, deposit-less flow marks in bends, etc.) and measurements at instrumented test sites, this phenomenon is best explained as being due to a fluidized, low-density flow regime that formed mostly in the head of some dry-snow avalanches. The mass fraction of the fluidized deposits ranged from less than 1% to ∼25% of the total deposit mass. Fluidization appears to depend rather sensitively on snow conditions and path properties.