Faculté des sciences

Differentiating past events on a cone influenced by debris-flow and snow avalanche activity - a dendrogeomorphological approach

Stoffel, Markus ; Bollschweiler, Michelle ; Hassler, Gion-Reto

In: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 2006, vol. 31, no. 11, p. 1424 - 1437

Dendrogeomorphology was used to investigate past events on a cone affected by both debris flows and snow avalanches. We report on results of 520 cores from 251 injured Larix decidua Mill. and Picea abies (L.) Karst. trees sampled on the Birchbach cone (Swiss Alps). Detailed analysis of tree-ring sequences allowed dating of 561 growth disturbances in individual trees for a 252 yr... Plus

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    Summary
    Dendrogeomorphology was used to investigate past events on a cone affected by both debris flows and snow avalanches. We report on results of 520 cores from 251 injured Larix decidua Mill. and Picea abies (L.) Karst. trees sampled on the Birchbach cone (Swiss Alps). Detailed analysis of tree-ring sequences allowed dating of 561 growth disturbances in individual trees for a 252 yr period, extending from 1750 to 2002, which could be attributed to 30 different event years. We then localized the position of rows of traumatic resin ducts (TRDs) within the tree ring so as to assess the intra-seasonal position of damage. In agreement with data on the local growth period, TRDs located at the beginning of the new growth ring were considered the result of avalanche impacts that occurred during the dormant season or in earliest earlywood between late October and early May. In contrast, TRD found in late earlywood or within latewood were considered the result of periglacial debris-flow activity, as these layers of the tree ring are locally formed between July and early October.For nine out of the 30 reconstructed event years, the intra-seasonal timing of TRDs indicated that reactions must be the result of past snow avalanche activity. In 19 other event years, TRDs showed that damage has been caused between July and early October and, thus, through debris flows in the Birchbach torrent. Finally, the spatial patterns of trees showing reactions as a result of particular events were assessed so as to approximate the extent of past debris flows and snow avalanches.