Articles | Volume 15, issue 6
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 1163–1179, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-15-1163-2015
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 1163–1179, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-15-1163-2015

Research article 09 Jun 2015

Research article | 09 Jun 2015

Predicting outflow induced by moraine failure in glacial lakes: the Lake Palcacocha case from an uncertainty perspective

D. S. Rivas, M. A. Somos-Valenzuela, B. R. Hodges, and D. C. McKinney D. S. Rivas et al.
  • Center for Research in Water Resources, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA

Abstract. Moraine dam collapse is one of the causes of glacial lake outburst floods. Available models seek to predict both moraine breach formation and lake outflow. The models depend on hydraulic, erosion, and geotechnical parameters that are mostly unknown or uncertain. This paper estimates the outflow hydrograph caused by a potential erosive collapse of the moraine dam of Lake Palcacocha in Peru and quantifies the uncertainty of the results. The overall aim is to provide a simple yet hydraulically robust approach for calculating the expected outflow hydrographs that is useful for risk assessment studies. To estimate the peak outflow and failure time of the hydrograph, we assessed several available empirical equations based on lake and moraine geometries; each equation has defined confidence intervals for peak flow predictions. Complete outflow hydrographs for each peak flow condition were modeled using a hydraulic simulation model calibrated to match the peak flows estimated with the empirical equations. Failure time and peak flow differences between the simulations, and the corresponding empirical equations were used as error parameters. Along with an expected hydrograph, lower and upper bound hydrographs were calculated for Lake Palcacocha, representing the confidence interval of the results. The approach has several advantages: first, it is simple and robust. Second, it evaluates the capability of empirical equations to reproduce the conditions of the lake and moraine dam. Third, this approach accounts for uncertainty in the hydrographs estimations, which makes it appropriate for risk management studies.

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