Main content area

Recent evolution of an ice‐cored moraine at the Gentianes Pass, Valais Alps, Switzerland

Ravanel, Ludovic, Duvillard, Pierre‐Allain, Jaboyedoff, Michel, Lambiel, Christophe
Land degradation & development 2018 v.29 no.10 pp. 3693-3708
glaciers, ice, landslides, melting, models, permafrost, Switzerland
Lateral moraines located in permafrost environments often preserve large amounts of both glacier and periglacial ice. To understand how ice‐cored moraines located in high alpine environments evolve in a context of both glacier retreat and permafrost degradation, we performed 11 terrestrial laser‐scanning measurement campaigns between 2007 and 2014 on a highly anthropogenic overprinted moraine prone to instability. Resulting comparison of the subsequent 3D models allowed to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze the morphological evolution of the moraine. The comparisons indicate a very high geomorphic activity of the moraine including large areas affected by downslope movements of blocks and 10 landslides with a volume between 24 ± 1 and 1,138 ± 47 m³. Data also indicated a very strong ice melt with a loss of ice thickness locally reaching 17.7 m at the foot of the moraine. These results, compared with resistivity and thermal measurements of the ground, suggest the combined role of ice loss at the foot of the moraine and the permafrost activity/warming in triggering these processes.