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7 Avalanche Research INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS Research efforts in the Uniteci States substantially lag those abroad. In Japan the In- stitute of Snow and Ice Studies was established at Nagaoka in 1964 as part of the National Research Center for Disaster Prevention (NRCDP), under the Science and Technology Agency (T. Nakamura, personal communication, 1989~. The NRCDP also maintains the Shinjo Branch of Snow and Ice Studies. In these laboratories avalanche research is con- ducted as one of four principal areas of snow research. Topics include impact measurements at instrumented field sites and experimental chutes, studies of glide phenomena, laboratory investigations. computer flow modeling. and automated warning systems (Nakamura et al.. cow - ~ r o, 1981, 1987, 1989; Abe et al., 1987; Sato, 1987~. In Sapporo, Japan, is the Institute of Low Temperature Science, established in 1941 to conduct fundamental and applied research on phenomena occurring in low-temperature climates. This institute, with a staff of 90, has gained international recognition for its work in physical and biological fields of cold-region science. Administered by Hokkaido University, the institute consists of 12 sections, ~ of which consider physical or glaciological topics (N. Macno, Institute of Low Temperature Science, Sapporo, Japan, personal communication, 1986~. Avalanche dynamics is also an important topic in the meteorological section (Shimizu et al., 1980; Akitaya, ~L980; Maeno et al., 1987, 1989; Nishimura and Maeno, 1987, 1989; Nishimura et al., 1989~. In addition, a snow and ice laboratory is maintained by the Railway Technical Re- search Institute, and a number of universities conduct research on snow and avalanches; for example, avalanche research is carried out jointly with ground-failure hazards at Ni- igata University's Research Institute for Hazards in Snowy Areas (Izumi, 1985; Hums and Kobayashi, 1986~. In Europe, where about 1,200 fatalities occurred as a result of avalanches in the last decade (ValIa, 1987), extensive research is performed. The predominant facility is the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow ant} Avalanche Research (F]SAR), a unique mountain laboratory 51

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~ AVALANCHE WARNING ~ / \ AVALANCHE ACC IDENTS / \ ^ i- ~ a\ _ ~ ~~: \ ~^ ~ FOREST AND 7< ~~ / \% /~\ {/ \ / AVALANCHE PROTECTION \ / ~ FOREST ENGINEERING ~ _ - t/ % ! ~: ~ r SLF .D |ZNO. 4 - t7Oi | FIGURE 3 Symbolic scheme of research and practice at the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research. The overlapping specialized departments meet in the central basic research sphere, and are surrounded by the zone of the practice-related problems. above the city of Davos (Figure 3~. FISAR has been devoted to studying all problems related to snow avalanches for more than 50 years (de Quervain, 1986; Jaccard, 1986; Salm and Gubler, 1987; Gubler and Weilenmann, 1986; Gubler, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989; Bachmann, 1987; Buser, 1989; Buser and Good, 1987; Good, 1987; Fohn, 1987~. Technology transfer and consultation on avalanche problems are of high priority. FISAR is organized under the Federal Department of the Interior within the Federal Forestry Service and maintains a staff of about 33 in 4 scientific sections: (~) Weather, Snowpack, and Avalanches; (2) Snow and Avalanche Mechanics and Avalanche Constructions; (3) Snow Cover and Vegetation; and (4) Snow and Ice Physics. FISAR operates a 90-station observation network throughout Switzerland, an avalanche warning service, a library, four cold laboratories, instrumented test fields, forestation test fields, an instrumented experimental avalanche chute, both stationary and mobile frequency-modulated continuous wave radars, and mobile Doppler radar units for velocity studies. Operations are funded within the normal budget of the Federal Forestry Service approved by Parliament, an expenditure adequately reimbursed by effective and controlled engineering and increased avalanche safety (Iaccard, 1986~. Contributions from the National Foundation for Scientific Research have occasionally been requested.

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53 Apart from the Federal Forestry Service, the most direct influence on F]SAR operations comes from the 15-member Federal Commission for Snow and Avalanche Research. Since most members are from universities and are competent in fields pertaining to snow research, they act as consultants for the scientific program. Other commission members represent practical aspects, including forestry, civil engineering, transportation, and tourism. Research is also carried out by the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology, and Glaciology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (Hutter and Alts, 1985; Hutter et al., 1987; Hutter and Savage, 1989; Hermann et al., 1987), the University of Bern (Matzler, 1987), and others. In Norway substantial avalanche research is carried out at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Oslo. NG! employs about IS0 persons and is supported by government agencies and consulting activities. About 20 percent of its income is government research funding (H. Norem, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, written communication, 1986~. The avalanche section of NOT, comprising seven professionals, is responsible for national research on avalanches of all kindssnow avalanches, rock avalanches and rockfalis, and slush avalanches (cf. Hestnes and Sandersen, 1987; Norem et al., 1987, 1989; Toppe, 1987~. The main research projects include field measurements of forces due to snow creep, avalanche speeds and impact pressures, avalanche-producecI water waves (NOT, 1984, 1986), and statistical and numerical estimation methods for extreme avalanche runout distances (Bakkehoi, 1987; Lied and Toppe, 1989~. A field research station is maintained in Grasdalen in western Norway. Snow research at NG]: benefits from close collaboration with an instrument section and engineers specializing in soil mechanics and rock engineering. NG] has an excellent library and maintains close relations with the Meteorological Institute and the University of Osio. The mixture of research and consulting activities makes it possible to bring the results of research rapidly into practice; likewise, consulting experience provides useful background for the evaluation of research results (H. Norem, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, written communication, 1986~. Study of physical properties of snow and ice was initiated in the U.S.S.R. in the 1930s (Kuvaeva et al., 1971) and is currently recognizes} as an independent discipline with as many as 10 scientific organizations working on problems related to snow physics and avalanches. The dominant problem for many of these institutes (e.g., the Alpine Geophysical Institute) is the study of snow cover and avalanches (Glaciological Data, 1984; Sulakvelidze and Dolov, 1969; Kotlyakov et al., 1977; Voitkovskiy, 1987; Zalikhanov et al., 1987), and considerable research has considered such topics as impact dynamics, mathematical flow modeling, snowpack physics, wind-blast effects, and forecasting. Research in France is carried out at the Division Nivologie CEMAGREF, Centre d'Etudes de la Neige, Saint Martin d'Heres, the Institut de Mecanique de Grenoble, and Association-nationale pour I'Etude de la Neige et Avalanches (ANENA), Grenoble. French research has pioneered such topics as stereophotogrammetric velocity determinations (Brug- not, 1982) and the development of a powder-snow avalanche dynamic code using a blend of theory and modeling in a water-fi~led channel (Beghin and Brugnot, 1983; Hopfinger, 1983~. The most important French achievement in simulation since 1980 considers dense flowing avalanches through explicit solution of Saint-Venant equations (Vile, 1986, 1987~. More realistic than previous solution methods (Brugnot and Pochat, 1981), this approach is mathematically complex but is adaptable to such problems as dam-break flooding and the prediction of water waves generated by avalanches (Vile, 19S7~. tThe water wave topic has also been considered by the Universite des Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc,

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54 Montpellier (Sabatier, 1986~. Other topics include snow rheology (Navarre et al., 1987), development of field-based extreme runout criteria (Berthier, 1986), artificial intelligence (LaFeuille et al., 1987; Charlier and Buisson, 1989; Brugnot, 1987), forecast modeling (Navarre et al., 1987), and control devices such as the explosive release system (Barrel, 1987), the DRA avalanche sensor traffic light warning system, snow rakes, and forest pro- tection (Brugnot, 1987~. ANENA publishes a journal, Neige et Avalanches, that contains both scientific research and practical studies. Elsewhere, well-established research investigations are maintained in Austria at the Forsttechnischer Dienst fur Wildbach und Law~nenverbauung, in Tirol (Hagen and Huf- nagl, 1987; Friedrich, 1987), and at the University of Innsbruck (Lacldnger, 1987, 1989; Denoth and Foglar, 1986~. Avalanche work is also done in Czechoslovakia by. Knvazovicly, consultant, Jasna, Czechoslovakia, written communication, 1986~; at several institutes in China (e.g., Academia Sinica, Xinjiang, and Lanzhou (]iaqi and Ruji, 1980; YanIong et al., 1980~; and at universities in Yugoslavia, West Germany, and Iceland (Bjornsson, 1980~. In Italy avalanche research is performed at the Experimental Centre for Avalanches and Hydrogeological Defence, operating under the Regione Veneto Dipartimento Foreste in Belluno, and at the privately financed Vanni Eigenmann Fonciazione ]:nternazionale in Milano, which undertakes avalanche safety and rescue research (Eigenmann, 1978~. In ac3- dition, there has been recent research in Argentina at the Instituto Argentina de Nivolog~a y Glaciolog~a, supported by CONTCET (Argentina's National Research Council) If. C. Leiva, Instituto Argentina de Nivolog~a y Glaciolog~a, written communication, 1986~. Research is also conducted in New Zealand at Otago and Canterbury universities (Fitzharris et al., 1983; Fitzharris and Owens, 1980; Owens and Fitzharris, 1989), with support from the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council in Wellington. India maintains a research center at the foot of the Himalayas (Rao et al., 19874. Canada, through the National Research Council of Canada, is also actively engaged in avalanche research (McClung, 1987; Schaerer, 1989~. Regional research facilities are located at Vancouver and Rogers Pass, British Columbia. Work in Canada covers the full range of snow and avalanche work including laboratory, field, and theoretical studies. Areas of research concentration include avalanche dynamics, quasistatic and dynamic forces on structures, avalanche prediction, and snow structure (McClung and Schaerer, 1983; Mc- Clung, 1977, 1979, 1981; Hungr and McClung, 1987; McClung and Lied, 1987; McClung and Larson, 1989; McClung et al., 1984; PerIa, 1978a,b, 1985; PerIa et al., 1980; Dozier et al., 1987; Schaerer and Sallway, 1980~. Despite the quality of this research, the research group is small and is currently threatened by budget trimming (D. McClung, National Re- search Council of Canada, written communications, 1987, 1990~. Avalanche investigations are considered under the Associate Committee for Geotechnical Research of the National Research Council, which coordinates Canadian research studies concerned with the physical and mechanical properties of the terrain of the dominion. Technical translation of foreign research on avalanches is supported by Canada's National Research Council. The organi- zation also issues the Canadian Avalanche Newsletter and provides headquarters for the Canadian Avalanche Association (McFariane, 1984~.

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ss CURRENT STATUS OF AVALANCHE RESEARCH IN THE UNITED STATES The level of avalanche research activity in the United States is extremely small compared with federal agency research budgets or the research levels in Europe, Japan, or even Canada. Avalanche studies are now restricted to a few universities, avalanche forecasting cen- ters, and private individuals who have an interest in avalanches. Such studies are largely unfunded in any formal sense. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center, for example, has entertained the possibility of attempting research in a modest way. However, this would require doubling its small budget of $~10,000; this is unrealistic, "since survival, and not expansion, is our major concern" (K Williams, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Department of Natural Resources, written communication, 19~. The amount of federal funds that directly support avalanche research is miniscule. Some support for snow research is provided by federal agencies, but this is not avalanche research. The U.S. Forest Service (USES) conducts a modest research program involving such topics as blowing snow (Schmidt, 1982, 1986; Schmidt et al., 1984) and snow melting (Kattelmann, 1987; McGurk and Kattelmann, 1986; Bergamon, 1986~. But with the demise of the modest but cost-effective USES avalanche program at Fort Collins, Colorado, support for snow avalanche research has vanished. The University of Washington was active in avalanche research from 1973 to 1984, with grants from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the Washington State Department of Transportation (LaChapelle et al., 1978~. In 1985 the Colorado Division of Highways funded the installation of load cells in a reinforced concrete snowshed in the San Juan Mountains (Mears, 1986~. Avalanche research at Montana State University was formerly sponsored by the USES (Lang and Martinelli, 1979a,b; Dent and Lang, 1980~. Funds from the Bureau of Reclamation supported a small program of avalanche research (in relation to concern for possible litigation due to its program of cloud seeding) at the University of Colorado in the 1970s and 1980s (R. L. Armstrong, 19~. The University of Washington, Montana State University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Colorado State University now conduct funded research on mechanical properties, optical properties, blowing snow, snow melt hydrology, etc., but little if anything in the way of direct avalanche studies. This lack of avalanche research reflects the absence of organized funding, not the lack of worthwhile research targets. Numerous research areas could improve the technology for forecasting and mitigating avalanche hazards. Ranking high among these are mountain meteorology and the ability to improve wind and snowfall predictions (Speers and Mass, 1986; Rhea, 1978; Dunn, 1983~. The majority of avalanches occur during and immediately after storms, so the ability to predict snowfall or snow drift patterns is of primary importance. Considerable research could be devoted to development of meteorological models that utilize large-scale meteorological input from the National Weather Service to improve the accuracy of forecasts for specific mountain ranges. On a smaller scale, such models could perhaps be extended to specific regions, such as recreational areas. These models would necessarily be computer based and would! include topographic as well as meteorological factors. A related need is improving prediction of snow deposition patterns in mountains, given a specific area snowfall, wind speed, and wind direction. Computer-based mathematical models could in principle be developed to allow forecasters to predict deposition patterns

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56 in complex terrain (Tesche, 19~), a capability that would also be useful in assessing the effects of modification on snow deposition patterns and snowmelt runoff. More studies are needed on release mechanisms. Models to predict snowpack strength and density profiles from meteorological data (temperature, solar insolation, wind, snowfall, etc.), for example, represent extremely complicated and perplexing problems that to date have been inadequately addressed (]udson et al., 1980~. In the area of snow mechanics, virtually no data exist on strength properties of seasonal snow in the density and grain shane ranges that annIv to avalanche conditions or on the spatial distribution of snowpack Or - - ~--~ r r -a - ~ r ~ strength and stress patterns. rost-control release deserves study Pratt, -1Yd4), as co fracture initiation and propagation (Bader et al., 1989~. Similarly, acoustic emissions are of interest as potential indicators of slab instability (St. Lawrence, 1980; Sommerfeld and Gubler, 1983; Watters and Swanson, 1986; McClung, 1987; Leaird and Plehn, 1984~. Other specialized topics concerning materials also need further study since they are essential ingredients in the forecasting process. An example is surface hoar formation and its evolution within the snow cover, for which little quantitative data exist (Colbeck, 1988; Breyfogle, 1986~. The ability to predict the precise conditions for surface hoar formation and its growth rate and properties would be useful. Other topics include studies on the formation of wind crusts and sun crusts and their bonding to the overlying snow cover. These special topics, while in themselves not large problems, are important to avalanche prediction and are not currently well understood. Avalanche dynamics is yet another area in need of thorough investigation, inasmuch as such studies provide basic input for zoning and other types of hazard mitigation. The state of the art has developed to the point where sophisticated computer models could now be developed to investigate avalanche flow over variable terrain for different snow conditions. Topics such as basal friction, turbulence, entrainment, deposition, and three- dimensional effects still need to be better understood, though some progress on these areas has been made (Gubler, 1987, 1989; Norem et al., 1987; Hutter and Alts, 1985; Hutter et al., 1987, Tesche, 1986~. The innovative use of radar systems shows promise in dynamic studies of natural avalanches (Gubler and Hiller, 1984; Gubler, 1987~. Field measurements of velocity and impact pressure and creep pressure yield information crucial to structural control (Schaerer and Sallway, 1980; Shimizu et al., 1980; Akitaya, 1980; Lang and Brown, 1980; Mears, 1986; Larsen et al., 1985; McClung and Larsen, 1989), though the reliability of some published results is reported to be in question (Brugnot, 1987~. Field and laboratory research is needed to develop and test new methodologies and to refine existing procedures for delineating and mapping avalanche hazards (Martinelli, 1984; Mears, 1984~. Additional topics include avalanche control measures, such as reforestation (Montagne et al., 1984; Jaccard, 1985~; structural methods and explosive delivery systems (Brugnot, 1987, 1989; Rapin, 1989~; and rescue methods, including development of elec- tronic transceivers to locate avalanche victims flying and Smythe, 1984; Good, 1986; Dozier et al., 1989~. The social aspects of avalanches and avalanche hazard forecasting have not received much attention and deserve more. The reaction of the recreation industry to forecasting and the manner of preparing and releasing forecasts to achieve maximum acceptance and benefit are several of many social science topics that could be considered.

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57 COMMENTS I. Avalanche research has been conducted on a small scale at a handful of universities and federal laboratories in the United States, but with the closure of the USES avalanche program no federal agency currently has a dedicated program to address this hazard. For a consistent national research capability to be established and maintained over the long term, certain programs and divisions of the National Science Foundation (NSF) need to be designated to accept avalanche proposals, and the responsibilities of federal agencies need to be reexamined. 2. The research funding problem is complicated because avalanche research involves a number of separate disciplines. So many facets of engineering and the physical sciences are involved that NSF programs in engineering, mathematical and physical sciences, and atmospheric and earth sciences could all, in principle, entertain proposals on avalanche research. However, since in the past no program in either engineering or the physical sciences clearly accepted responsibility for funding avalanche research Proposals. these proposals tended to slip through the cracks in the system. ~ . . , ~ _ ~ ~ , , ~ r 1 ~ Where were valid reasons for this, since far N5L programs have a natural preference for concentrating on so-called mainstream research topics, highly visible with respect to program missions; (b) the snow avalanche problem is not as serious a problem as some others and therefore may be placed on a lower priority level; and (c) the avalanche problem has such a broad interdisciplinary nature that, without a concerted effort on the part of funding agencies such as NSF to define appropriate programs responsible for funding, most programs would hesitate to assume responsibility. To some extent this negative situation may have been ameliorated by the recent reor- ganization of NSF, in which the Natural and Manmade Hazards Mitigation program was established within the Directorate of Engineering: "The natural hazards of interest to this program are geophysical in nature, and related to the meteorologic, hydrologic and geo- morphic extreme events which each year endanger, damage, or destroy lives, property and resources.... Research efforts in this program are directed to natural hazards such as hurricanes and tornadoes, floods and droughts, landslides and mudflows, snow drifts and icejams" (NSF, Program Announcement, OMB 3145-0058~. This program currently accepts proposals for avalanche research. Other funding opportunities may exist at NSF. For example, atmospheric sciences is a natural research area for problems such as blowing and drifting snow, cornice forma- tion, snow deposition patterns in mountainous terrain, and precipitation processes. The Experimental Meteorology program in the Division of Astronomical, Atmospheric, Earth, and Ocean Sciences could fund such research. In the Directorate for Engineering, topics such as fluid dynamics, turbulence, and multiph-ase flow could reasonably be placed under sponsorship of the programs of Engineering Science in Chemical, Biochemical, and Thermal Engineering and Engineering Science in Mechanics, Structures, and Materials Engineering. Other topics, such as avalanche dynamics, avalanche release processes, mechanical proper- ties of snow, and heat and mass transport in snow, could fall within the responsibilities of a number of programs, depending on the particular emphasis given by the principal investiga- tor. No single division can be expected to assume sole responsibility for all avalanche-related problems, since the problems are so strongly interdisciplinary. Given that the above programs could logically provide support, some means of ensuring that avalanche and snow research proposals have their "day in court" must be implemented.

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58 Unless programs are given official responsibility to include snow, ice, and avalanche topics, such proposals will continue to have difficulty being fairly considered for funcling. As a corrective measure, NSF could clearly identity specific programs as having respon- sibility for proposals relating to snow and avalanche problems. A mechanism for directing these proposals to the correct program should be instituted. Programs responsible for these types of proposals should be earmarked in the NSF Guide to Programs, so that scientists and engineers can easily obtain some indication of the correct program to which they should submit their proposals. Finally, recognizing that NSF is an organic entity that undergoes periodic restructuring, the problem may require periodic reevaluation. 3. Turning to the question of federal agency involvement, it seems clear that the interdisciplinary nature of snow avalanche studies creates problems analogous to those concerning potential NSF funding. Yet at the same time this diversity may offer flexibility in finding plausible answers to the problem. Federal agency involvement could assume several possible forms. The most realistic possibilities are the following: a. Establishment of a national laboratory dedicated to alpine snow and avalanche research. The Swiss Federal Snow and Avalanche Research Institute provides the clear model for such an enterprise. b. Incorporation of avalanche research into the ongoing research programs of one or several federal agencies. The choice of agency would depend on whether emphasis is placed on materials (avalanches of snow), on processes and hazards (avalanches as a type of slope failure), or on the principal territory affected (avalanches on federal lands). These lines of thought lead, respectively, to the following possibilities for incorporation of an avalanche research effort into existing agency programs: a. U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory; b. U.S. Geological Survey landslide research, as part of a ground-failure hazards- reduction program; c. USFS's, as part of a mountain snow research program. Decisions ultimately wall be governed by economic and political factors where can funds be made available for avalanche research, now and in the long term, and in which agency are administrators interested in developing a program of avalanche research? These are indeed the key questions, for nothing significant wild happen unless some ~n~ividua1ts step forward to accept the task and a source of Fining can be established. Perhaps the best and most direct way to establish an avalanche research capability in the United States would be to create a national research center devoted to avalanche problems.) Swiss experience indicates that avalanches are indeed a very difficult, complex, and multi- faceted phenomenon that can best be studied by research teams at a research center. This would require a budget sufficient for a technical and support staff with the required field, laboratory, and analytical skills. Unfortunately, when weighed against the economic magni- tude of the avalanche problem in the United States and the current economic climate for research funding, establishing such a research center would seem hard to Justin. Although the federal economic climate could change, and other possibilities for research support could be developed via public endowment, industrial sponsorship, or through such techniques as "snow safety" surcharges attached to commercial ski tickets or backcountry users, at present a national center concept does not seem supportable. Nonetheless, the current situation

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s9 in which there is no organizational focus for avalanche work and no funding available to support an ongoing program is equally hard to justify. A middle ground should therefore be sought. If an avalanche program could be incorporated as part of a more general research effort, justification might be more realistic, and the resources of a more diverse group of scientists, engineers, field personnel, and technicians could be utilized. Centering such an effort in a permanent research group seems necessary to assure the long-term records needed for probabilistic solutions. One possibility involves the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab- oratory (CRREL) at Hanover, New Hampshire, which decades ago briefly supported a review of avalanche research (Mellor, 1978; see also Borland, 1953; Fuchs, 1957~. CRREL concentrates its efforts on sea ice, lake and river ice, frozen soils, permafrost, and atmo- spheric icing. In the area of snow, CRREL provides support for vehicle mobility, material properties, stress wave studies, penetration mechanics, electrical and optical properties, and blowing and drifting snow. Some of this research on material properties has poten- tial application to avalanche technology (Colbeck 1987), but the applications are indirect. Most current studies have potential military applications in mind. Further, the location of CRREL, in New Hampshire, is not central to U.S. avalanche problems. The solution to the avalanche research question is best sought elsewhere. Another possibility is to once again incorporate avalanche studies into a mountain snow research program of the USES. The now-defunct Fort Collins avalanche program began in this fashion, with an overall program including wind transport and deposition, hydrologic aspects of mountain snow cover, and interaction of snow with timber production. The avalanche portion was shut down in 1985, associated with a reduction in hydrologic studies and an increase in acid precipitation research. Such a program could be reinstated. However, the size of the USES avalanche research effort in terms of staff and total budget (about $200,000 per annum) made it vulnerable to negative administrative decisions when funds became increasingly difficult to obtain. Furthermore, the interest in mountain snow research was small within the context of the USES mission, which is focused on the production of timber resources. Other alternatives might provide a relatively more substantial base on which to found and maintain a long-term research effort in avalanches. This is not to suggest that avalanche research should not be carried out by the USES, for the panel's opinion is that such research would be beneficial. We merely recognize that such a program may be of uncertain longevity, given past experience, and that the research involvement of several agencies can be justified. As a final possibility the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) should be considered, since this is the principal federal organization concerned with slope failure (U.S. Geological Survey, 1981, 1982~. Public Law 93-2~, the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, which includes provisions that the federal government be prepared to issue warnings of disasters to state and local officials and provide them with technical assistance, specifically identifies landslides among the geologic hazards to be addressed. Under this act, the director of the USGS has been delegated specific responsibility for issuing disaster warning "for an earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, or other geologic catastrophe." As a federal a~encv the USGS embraces those elements of a stone failure Droaram =~ ~ - - - -r - -- - r -= - - that are ot national, overview, or fundamental scientific concern. These elements include research on slope failure processes, with emphasis on mechanics, materials, and rates; pro- totype and demonstration studies of hazard, risk, and vulnerability assessment; and research

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60 on slope failure prediction and the development of mode! early-warning systems. The USGS also is responsible for positive actions to transfer its research findings to those of federal, state, local, and private groups in whose charge rests hazard-miti~ation implementation (USGS Management Implementation Plan, Geologic Hazard Surveys, FY 1986~. Within the USGS there is no national center for landslide studies. Instead, such activities are dispersed under the Geologic Division and the Water Resources Division at such locations as Denver, Colorado; MenIo Park, California; Reston, Virginia; and Vancouver, Washington (Cascade Volcano Observatory). A precedence exists for some snow or ice avalanche research by USGS scientists (Mashes, 1930; Twenhofel et al., 1949; Davis, 1962; Post, 1968; Witkind et al., 1972; Bryant, 1972; Love, 1973; Frank et al., 1975; LueUke, 1976; Plafker and Erickson, 1978; Voight, 1980, 1981; Voight et al., 1981, 1983; Armstrong and Carrara, 1981; Waitt et al., 1983; Waitt, 1990; Pierson et al., 1990; R. Denlinger, U.S. Geological Survey, personal commu- nication, 1986; R. I. Janda, U.S. Geological Survey, personal communications, 19S6, 1990; W. Hotchkiss, U.S. Geological Survey, personal communication, 1985; R. L. Christiansen, U.S. Geological Survey, personal communication, 1986~. USGS personnel were involved in the Juneau, Alaska, avalanche hazard problem circa 1950 (Twenhofel et al., 1949; R. Miller, communication cited by LaChapelle, 1972) and were instrumental in relocating a schoo] proposed for a hazardous location. Reports in the 1970s reflected regional hazard mapping, whereas most recent studies involve snow-volcano interactions. The current lack of significant USGS involvement in snow avalanche research reflects several factors, including the perception within the USGS that the topic was authoritatively and comprehensively embraced by the USES and the inadequacy of funding resources to allow full response to other high-priority slope failure topics such as warning systems and technical assistance responsibilities. Yet snow avalanche studies are recognized as having direct relevance to landslide re- search (and vice versa) on processes, hazard delineation, and warning systems. To cite one example, close parallels are recognized between flowing snow and slush avalanches and debris flows (Hestnes and Sandersen, 1987; Nyberg, 1985) and, to cite another, between powder avalanches and turbidity currents (Hermann et al., 1987; Scheiw~ler, 1986; Schei- willer and Hutter, 1983~. Methods for delineating and mitigating snow avalanches and other slope failure hazards are similar (Kienho~z, 1978; {yes and Bovis, 1978; Mears, 1979; Brabb, 1984; Hansen, 1984; Kockelman, 1986), and research on processes and dynamic simulation originally developed for snow avalanches have been profitably applied to other areas of slope failure research and practice (Lang and Dent, 1983; Trunk et al., 1986~. In principle, and assuming availability of funds, the USGS national landslide program could be strengthened to address the problem of snow avalanches, particularly in areas of process and hazard delineation. This possibility deserves to be explored. NOTE I. Previous initiatives in the United States to develop such a national center include the following: (a) a snow and avalanche research and resource center at Fort Collins, Colorado, was proposed as a USFS-founded "Center of Excellence," with cooperation between the USES and Colorado State University to be carried out under a Memorandum of Understanding (Martinelli, 1978~; and (b) a National Avalanche Resource and Research

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61 Center was proposed for the Salt Lake City/Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, location as a USFS- founded entity cooperating with the University of Utah, the U.S. Army Tooele Depot and Dugway Proving Ground, and the National Weather Service (Anderson, 1977~. Neither proposal was funded.