Supraglacial landslides result from the catastrophic failure of periglacial rock slopes and deposit large volumes of rock and ice onto the glacier surface. The most remarkable features of these landslides are their prominent long flowbands and a high mobility that exceeds that of their counterparts in other environments. Based on field surveys, high-resolution digital elevation models, and continuous seismic data, we show that the emplacement dynamics of the 2016 rock avalanche on Lamplugh Glacier were characterized by two distinct stages. During the first stage, the debris traveled about 5 km from the base of the slope. Clear long-period seismic signals during this stage record strong interactions of the rock avalanche debris with the ground, suggesting dynamic processes such as grain collisions and fragmentation. The second stage was essentially aseismic at long periods and dominated by low-friction sliding at slow deceleration rates. A higher density of flowbands and increased entrainment of snow from the runout path characterize the morphology of this second-stage distal deposition. Around the margins, lobes are offset by up to 400 m along major strike-slip faults, whereas within individual lobes, offsets between flowbands are much less pronounced (0 to < 10 m). The two-stage emplacement model may explain the higher apparent mobility of supraglacial landslides.

Citation

Dufresne, A., Wolken, G.J., Hibert, C., Bessette-Kirton, E.K., Coe, J.A., Geertsema, M., and Ekström, G.. 2019. The 2016 Lamplugh rock avalanche, Alaska: deposit structures and emplacement dynamics. Landslides. 16: 2301-2319. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10346-019-01225-4. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-019-01225-4..