Journal article

Snow avalanches striking water basins: behaviour of the avalanche's centre of mass and front

We study the behaviour of a low-density granular material entering a water basin by means of a simplified two-dimensional model, with the aim to understand the dynamics of a snow avalanche impacting a water basin like an alpine lake or a fjord. The low density of the impacting mass induces an uplift buoyancy force and, consequently, a complicated interaction between the solid and fluid phase. This paper provides an insight into the motion of the impacting mass, by presenting a simplified, two-dimensional model, where the snow is described by a low-density granular material. First, small-scale experiments, based on the Froude similarity with snow avalanches, are used to evaluate the motion of reference points of the impacting mass, i.e. the front (F), centre of mass (C) and deepest point (L). Then, applying the mass and momentum conservation principles to a fixed volume, we show that the mean motion of the impacting mass is similar to that of a damped oscillator. The stretch of the impacting mass motion is described through the motion of the reference points F and L.


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