Recently, a massive Avalanche hit Sikkim’s Nathu La.
GS I: Geography
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is Avalanche?
- Causes of Avalanches:
- Avalanches vs. Landslides: How They Differ
What is Avalanche?
- An avalanche refers to a sudden and swift movement of snow, ice, and debris down a mountain or slope.
- Avalanche can be triggered by various factors like heavy snowfall, rapid temperature changes, or human activity.
- In avalanche-prone areas, specialized teams use techniques such as explosives, snow barriers, and other safety measures to monitor and control avalanche risks.
- The three main types of avalanches are rock avalanches (composed of shattered rock), ice avalanches (occurring in the vicinity of a glacier), and debris avalanches (consisting of unconsolidated materials such as loose stones and soil).
Causes of Avalanches:
- Weather Conditions: Heavy snowfall, rapid temperature changes, strong winds, and rain are some of the factors that can contribute to avalanche conditions.
- Slope Conditions: The steepness, orientation, and shape of a slope can also increase the likelihood of an avalanche. Steep slopes with a convex shape are particularly prone to avalanches.
- Snowpack Conditions: The structure and stability of the snowpack play a significant role in avalanche conditions. Weak layers of snow or ice within the snowpack can cause it to collapse and trigger an avalanche.
- Human Activity: Recreational activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, and other movements on the slope can trigger avalanches.
- Natural Events: Natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and rockfalls can also trigger avalanches.
Avalanches vs. Landslides: How They Differ
- Avalanches and landslides are both types of mass movements, but they occur in different environments and involve different materials.
- An avalanche is a sudden and rapid flow of snow, ice, and debris down a mountain or slope, while a landslide is a movement of rock, earth, or debris down a slope or cliff.
- Avalanches mainly occur in mountainous areas with heavy snowfall and steep slopes, whereas landslides can happen in a broad range of environments and can be triggered by factors like heavy rainfall, earthquakes, volcanic activity, or human activity.
- Both avalanches and landslides can be hazardous and potentially fatal, and taking appropriate precautions to avoid them is critical.