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Friday March 10, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

The Swiss Avalanche Institute sets off a gigantic avalanche in Valais canton to learn more about the snow. Meanwhile another spontaneously triggers nearby.

Scientists from the Swiss Avalanche Institute (SLF) set off a massive avalanche this week in the Sionne Valley in the canton of Valais to learn more about them.

It forms part of a massive on-going experimental programme to understand the power and energy of snow and the effects of displacing large volumes of snow.

Ultimately the information collected in these experiments will help specialists understand avalanches better.

It is hoped, therefore, that communities can be better prepared in notorious avalanche zones along with protecting roads and infrastucture.

It was the biggest experimental avalanche on the site for 11 years.

It was set off by explosives dropped from a helicopter.

The wall of snow moved 2.5km down the valley.


Researchers were able to monitor its progress through a 20 metre-high pole equipped with various instruments. 

The Swiss Avalanche Institute has carried out dozens of similar experiments over the past 20 years.

SLF Avalanche 8th March - (photo: Margherita Maggioni SLF)SLF Avalanche 8th March - (photo: Margherita Maggioni SLF)




















Capturing infrared images of the avalanche (photo: SLF)Capturing infrared images of the avalanche (photo: SLF)
















Final preparations before settin off the avalanche (photo: SLF)Final preparations before setting off the avalanche (photo: SLF)
















More information on the experiment conducted by the Swiss Avalanche Institute here.

However, while the scientists were preparing to set off their experimental avalanche, the devastating effect of a spontaneous avalanche ripped through a small hamlet above the Valais Village of Salvan that same day.

Access to the hamlet is restricted in winter months.

Luckily, it is not occupied during the winter months so there were no victims.

There was considerable damage to the village with many parts being completely buried under the snow.

Watch the Twitter video below showing the devastation in Salvan.



Valais Village of Salvon - avalanche 8th MarchDamage to the Village of Salvan,Valais - avalanche 8th March



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Additional information on the Salvan avalanche

On the same day a further controlled avalanche was set off in Valais on the Belalp to ensure on-piste safety.

Watch how the avalanched snow traverses the T-bar lifts. Swissinfo.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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