Articles | Volume 2, issue 3/4
31 Dec 2002
31 Dec 2002

Calibration and application of the MN2D dynamics model to the avalanches of Las Leñas (Argentina)

M. Naaim, G. Furdada, and H. Martínez

Abstract. During the winters of 1999 and 2000 large avalanches occurred in the ski resort of Las Leñas (Los Andes, Mendoza, Argentina). On 8 September 1999 an avalanche of new, dry snow ran over a path with a 1000 m vertical drop. On 30 June and on 1 July 2000 five avalanches of similar vertical drop, which start with new snow, entrained very wet snow during their descent, and evolved into dense snow avalanches. 

To use the MN2D dynamics model correctly, calibration of model parameters is necessary. Also, no previous works with the use of dynamics models exist in South America. The events used to calibrate the model occurred during the winters of 1999 and 2000 and are a good sample of the kind of avalanches which can occur in this area of the Andes range. 

By considering the slope morphology and topography, the snow and meteorological conditions and the results of the model simulations, it was estimated that these avalanches were not extreme events with a return period greater than one hundred years. This implies that, in natural conditions, bigger, extreme avalanches could happen. 

In this work, the MN2D dynamics model is calibrated with two different avalanches of the same magnitude: dry and wet. The importance of the topographic data in the simulation is evaluated. It is concluded that MN2D dynamics model can be used to simulate dry extreme avalanches in Argentinean Andes but not to simulate extreme wet avalanches, which are much more sensitive to the topography.