Glacial lake outburst flood: the Giétro case in 1818

Giétro outburst flood

In May 1818, the Giétro glacier caused ice avalanches that blocked the Drance de Bagnes. A lake formed, and despite the emergency work undertaken by Ignaz Venetz, the glacial dam broke. The flood killed about 40 people.

Switzerland is particularly concerned by glacial lake outburst floods and, more generally, glacier-related accidents. With global warming, the frequency of outburst floods has increased, especially in Alaska, Europe, and Iceland, but of course all glacier-covered mountains in the world are affected. The problem of glacial lake outburst floods remains topical.

In collaboration with VAW at ETHZ (Martin Funk’s team) and Éric Bardou, we studied the formation of a breach in the ice dam and, once the dam had failed, the propagation of the flood wave down to Martigny.

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