Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
28 Feb 2011
 | 28 Feb 2011

Assessment of debris-flow susceptibility at medium-scale in the Barcelonnette Basin, France

M. S. Kappes, J.-P. Malet, A. Remaître, P. Horton, M. Jaboyedoff, and R. Bell

Abstract. Debris flows are among the most dangerous processes in mountainous areas due to their rapid rate of movement and long runout zone. Sudden and rather unexpected impacts produce not only damages to buildings and infrastructure but also threaten human lives. Medium- to regional-scale susceptibility analyses allow the identification of the most endangered areas and suggest where further detailed studies have to be carried out. Since data availability for larger regions is mostly the key limiting factor, empirical models with low data requirements are suitable for first overviews. In this study a susceptibility analysis was carried out for the Barcelonnette Basin, situated in the southern French Alps. By means of a methodology based on empirical rules for source identification and the empirical angle of reach concept for the 2-D runout computation, a worst-case scenario was first modelled. In a second step, scenarios for high, medium and low frequency events were developed. A comparison with the footprints of a few mapped events indicates reasonable results but suggests a high dependency on the quality of the digital elevation model. This fact emphasises the need for a careful interpretation of the results while remaining conscious of the inherent assumptions of the model used and quality of the input data.