Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-690
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-690
16 Apr 2024
 | 16 Apr 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

The effect of propagation saw test geometries on critical cut length

Bastian Bergfeld, Karl W. Birkeland, Valentin Adam, Philipp L. Rosendahl, and Alec van Herwijnen

Abstract. For a slab avalanche to release, a crack in a weak snow layer beneath a cohesive snow slab has to initiate and propagate. Information on crack propagation is essential for assessing avalanche triggering potential. In the field, this information can be gathered with the Propagation Saw Test (PST), a field test that provides valuable data on crack propagation propensity. The first PSTs were performed about 20 years ago and standards have since been established. However, there are still differences in how the PST is performed. Standards in North America require the column ends to be cut vertically, whereas in Europe they are typically cut at a normal angle. In this study, we investigate the effect of these different column geometries on the critical cut length. To this end, we conducted 27 pairs of PST experiments, each pair consisting of one PST with slope normal cut ends and one PST with vertical cut ends. Our experiments showed that PSTs with normal cut ends have up to 50 % shorter critical cut lengths, and the difference predominantly depends on the slope angle and slab thickness. We developed two load-based models to convert critical cut lengths between the test geometries: (i) a uniform slab model that treats the slab as one uniform layer and (ii) a layered model that accounts for stratification. For validation, we compare these models with a modern fracture mechanical model. For the rather uniform slabs of our experiments, both load-based models were in excellent agreement with measured data. For slabs with an artificial layering, the uniform load-model predictions reveal deviations from the fracture mechanical model whereas the layered model was still in excellent agreement. This study reveals the influence that the geometry of field tests and the slope angle of the field site have on test results. It also shows that only accurately prepared field tests can be reliable and therefore meaningful. However, we provide models to correct for imprecise field test geometry effects on the critical cut length.

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Bastian Bergfeld, Karl W. Birkeland, Valentin Adam, Philipp L. Rosendahl, and Alec van Herwijnen

Status: open (until 22 Jun 2024)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-690', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 May 2024 reply
Bastian Bergfeld, Karl W. Birkeland, Valentin Adam, Philipp L. Rosendahl, and Alec van Herwijnen
Bastian Bergfeld, Karl W. Birkeland, Valentin Adam, Philipp L. Rosendahl, and Alec van Herwijnen

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Short summary
To release a slab avalanche, a crack in a weak snow layer beneath a cohesive slab has to propagate. Information on that is essential for assessing avalanche risk. In the field, information can be gathered with the Propagation Saw Test (PST). However, there are different standards on how to cut the PST. In this study, we experimentally investigate the effect of these different column geometries and provide models to correct for imprecise field test geometry effects on the critical cut length.