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The propagation saw test: slope scale validation and alternative test methods

  • Cameron K.H. Ross (a1) and Bruce Jamieson (a1) (a2)

Abstract

The propagation saw test (PST) is a recently developed snowpack test that enables assessment of the fracture propagation propensity of selected persistent weak-layer and slab combinations, which are known to release dry-slab avalanches. In this paper, we assess the slope- scale accuracy of the standard PST method at validated sites of observed weak-layer fracture initiation, with or without propagation. We also report on experiments with alternative test methods and varying saw thicknesses. Results show the standard PST method is comparably accurate to other common snowpack tests in predictive skill when predicting propagation propensity on the slope scale. Although a slight but significant dependence on saw thickness was found, it did not affect the interpretation in our validation study. Alternative methods such as scaling the test column length with weak-layer depth or leaving the upslope end of the column attached to the surrounding snowpack did not improve slope- scale accuracy and these tests were often more difficult to interpret.

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References

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