12.09 Detecting and modelling fluid flow and critical hydrostatic pressure in permafrost/cryospheric rock walls (HydroPF)

Research

Frequent rock slope failures and rock subsidence from permafrost-affected mountains pose an increasing hazard on high mountain infrastructure and individuals exemplified by hundreds of recent rockfalls and frequent rock subsidence problems affecting cable cars and alpine huts. This creates a major challenge at the interface of geomechanical and snow research and infrastructure engineering. This project combines cutting edge competences on rock-ice mechanics in thawing permafrost rocks (TUM Landslides), relative gravimetrical techniques to decipher critical hydrostatic pressure levels (TUM Physical Geodesy) and thermal permafrost rock models including snow infiltration (SLF, CH). Sudden changes of hydrostatic pressure are a poorly understood key control of permafrost rock slope failure. Snow and ice provide high infiltration, permafrost seals fractured rock causing hydrostatic pressure peaks. Combining electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) monitoring of permafrost extend inside rock faces and relative gravimetrical monitoring (RGM), we have developed the 1st method capable of spatially measuring perched groundwater causing critical hydrostatic pressure levels in a 3-year benchmark experiment at the Zugspitze. In this proposal, we combine (i) snow and water infiltration modelling, (ii) the development of a sound benchmark method to derive hydrostatic pressure from RGM and ERT and (iii) mechanical modelling of the impact of sudden hydrostatic pressure variations on rock instability at two fully-equipped permafrost investigation sites (Zugspitze, D and Gemsstock, CH).

Publications

Team

Project team leader

Dr. Thomas Gruber
Chair of Astronomical and Physical Geodesy

Doctoral researcher

Riccardo Scandroglio
Chair of Landslide Research

Doctoral researcher

Luisa Pruessner
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research

Doctoral researcher

Regina Pläsken
Chair of Landslide Research

   

Doctoral researcher

Benjamin Jacobs
Chair of Landslide Research

   

Principal investigator

Professor Michael Krautblatter
Chair of Landslide Research

Principal Investigator

Dr. Marcia Phillips
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research

Principal investigator

Professor Roland Pail
Chair of Astronomical and Physical Geodesy