Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 665–672, 2021
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 665–672, 2021

Short communication 23 Jun 2021

Short communication | 23 Jun 2021

Short communication: Runout of rock avalanches limited by basal friction but controlled by fragmentation

Øystein T. Haug et al.

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Cited articles

Bowman, E. T., Take, W. A., Rait, K. L., and Hann, C.: Physical models of rock avalanche spreading behaviour with dynamic fragmentation, Can. Geotech. J., 49, 460–476,, 2012. a, b, c
Campbell, C. S.: Self-lubrication for long runout landslides, J. Geol., 97, 653–665, 1989. a, b
Davies, T. R. and McSaveney, M. J.: Runout of dry granular avalanches, Can. Geotech. J., 36, 313–320,, 1999. a
De Blasio, F. V. and Crosta, G. B.: Fragmentation and boosting of rock falls and rock avalanches, Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, 8463–8470,, 2015. a, b, c
Gao, G., Meguid, M. A., Chouinard, L. E., and Zhan, W.: Dynamic disintegration processes accompanying transport of an earthquake-induced landslide, Landslides, 18, 1612–5118,, 2020. a
Short summary
The runout of rock avalanches scales with their volume but also shows a considerable variation for avalanches with similar volumes. Here we show that besides size-dependent weakening mechanisms, fragmentation can account for the observed variability in runout. We use laboratory-scale experimental avalanches to simulate and analyse the role of fragmentation. We find that fragmentation consumes energy but also increases avalanche mobility. It does so systematically and predictably.