Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Three-dimensional microstructure and numerical calculation of elastic properties of alpine snow with a focus on weak layers

  • Berna Köchle (a1) and Martin Schneebeli (a1)

Abstract

The microstructure and stratigraphy of a snowpack determine its physical behaviour. Weak layers or weak interfaces buried under a slab are prerequisites for the formation of dry-snow slab avalanches, and a precise characterization of weak layers or interfaces is essential to assess stability. Yet their exact geometry and micromechanical properties are poorly known. We cast weak layers and their adjacent layers in the field during two winters and reconstructed their three-dimensional microstructure using X-ray microcomputer tomography. The high resolution of 10–20 μm allowed us to study snow stratigraphy at the microstructural scale. We quantified the microstructural variability for 32 centimetre-sized layered samples and we calculated Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio by tomography-based finite-element simulations. Layers in a sample could therefore be differentiated not only by a change in morphology or microstructure, but also by a change in mechanical properties. We found a logarithmic correlation of Young’s modulus with density for two different density ranges, consistent with previous studies. By calculating the relative microstructural changes within our samples, we showed that a large change could indicate a potential weak layer, but only when the weak layer and both adjacent layers, i.e. the sandwich, were considered.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Three-dimensional microstructure and numerical calculation of elastic properties of alpine snow with a focus on weak layers
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Three-dimensional microstructure and numerical calculation of elastic properties of alpine snow with a focus on weak layers
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Three-dimensional microstructure and numerical calculation of elastic properties of alpine snow with a focus on weak layers
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Bellaire, S, Pielmeier, C, Schneebeli, M and Schweizer, J (2009) Stability algorithm for snow micro-penetrometer measurements. J. Glaciol., 55(193), 805813 (doi: 10.3189/002214309790152582)
Calonne, N, Flin, F, Morin, S, Lesaffre, B, Rolland du Roscoat, S and Geindreau, C (2011) Numerical and experimental investigations of the effective thermal conductivity of snow. Geophys. Res. Lett., 38(23), L23501 (doi: 10.1029/2011GL049234)
Coléou, C, Lesaffre, B, Brzoska, JB, Ludwig, W and Boller, E (2001) Three-dimensional snow images by X-ray microtomography. Ann. Glaciol., 32, 7581 (doi: 10.3189/172756401781819418)
Fierz, C and 8 others (2009) The international classification for seasonal snow on the ground. (IHP Technical Documents in Hydrology 83)UNESCO–International Hydrological Programme, Paris
Föhn, PMB, Camponovo, C and Krüsi, G (1998) Mechanical and structural properties of weak snow layers measured in situ. Ann. Glaciol., 26, 16
Greaves, GN, Greer, AL, Lakes, RS and Rouxel, T (2011) Poisson’s ratio and modern materials. Nature Mater., 10(11), 823837
Heggli, M and 7 others (2011) Measuring snow in 3-D using X-ray tomography: assessment of visualization techniques. Ann. Glaciol., 52(58), 231236 (doi:10.3189/172756411797252202)
Heierli, J, Gumbsch, P and Zaiser, M (2008) Anticrack nucleation as triggering mechanism for snow slab avalanches. Science, 321(5886), 240243 (doi:10.1126/science.1153948)
Hildebrand, T and Rüesegger, P (1997) A new method for the model-independent assessment of thickness in three-dimensional images. J. Microsc., 185(1), 6775 (doi:10.1046/j.1365–2818.1997.1340694.x)
Johnson, JB and Schneebeli, M (1999) Characterizing the micro-structural and micromechanical properties of snow. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 30(1–3), 91100 (doi:10.1016/S0165–232X(99) 00013–0)
Kaempfer, TU, Schneebeli, M and Sokratov, SA (2005) A micro-structural approach to model heat transfer in snow. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32(21), L21503 (doi:10.1029/2005GL023873)
Kronholm, K, Schneebeli, M and Schweizer, J (2004) Spatial variability of micropenetration resistance in snow layers on a small slope. Ann. Glaciol., 38, 202208
Kry, PR (1975) The relationship between the visco-elastic and structural properties of fine-grained snow. J. Glaciol., 14(72), 479500
Löwe, H and Van Herwijnen, A (2012) A Poisson shot noise model for micro-penetration of snow. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 70, 6270 (doi:10.1016/j.coldregions.2011.09.001)
Löwe, H, Riche, F and Schneebeli, M (2013) A general treatment of snow microstructure exemplified by an improved relation for thermal conductivity. Cryosphere, 7(5), 14731480 (doi:10.5194/tc-7–1473–2013)
Lutz, E, Birkeland, KW and Marshall, HP (2009) Quantifying changes in weak layer microstructure associated with artificial load changes. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 59(2–3), 202209 (doi:10.1016/j.coldregions.2009.04.003)
Marshall, HP and Johnson, JB (2009) Accurate inversion of high-resolution snow penetrometer signals for microstructural and micromechanical properties. J. Geophys. Res., 114(F4), F04016 (doi:10.1029/2009JF001269)
McClung, DM (1981) Fracture mechanical model of dry slab avalanche release. J. Geophys. Res., 86(B11), 10 78310 790 (doi:10.1029/JB086iB11p10783)
Narita, H (1980) Mechanical behaviour and structure of snow under uniaxial tensile stress. J. Glaciol., 26(94), 275282
Odgaard, A and Gundersen, HJG (1993) Quantification of connectivity in cancellous bone, with special emphasis on 3-D reconstructions. Bone, 14(2), 173182 (doi:10.1016/8756–3282(93)90245–6)
Petrovic, JJ (2003) Review mechanical properties of ice and snow. J. Mater. Sci., 38(1), 16 (doi:0.1023/A:1021134128038)
Pielmeier, C and Schweizer, J (2007) Snowpack stability information derived from the SnowMicroPen signal. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 47(1–2), 102107 (doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2006.08.013)
Pieritz, RA, Brzoska, JB, Flin, F, Lesaffre, B and Coléou, C (2004) From snow X-ray microtomograph raw volume data to micromechanics modeling: first results. Ann. Glaciol., 38, 5258 (doi:10.3189/172756404781815176)
Scapozza, C (2004) Entwicklung eines dichte- und temperaturabha¨ngigen Stoffgesetzes zur Beschreibung des visko-elastischen Verhaltens von Schnee. (PhD thesis, ETH Zürich)
Schneebeli, M (2002) The importance of the microstructure of snow in nature and engineering. In Brebbia, CA ed. Design and nature III: comparing design in nature with science and engineering, WIT Press, Southampton, 8793
Schneebeli, M (2004) Numerical simulation of elastic stress in the microstructure of snow. Ann. Glaciol., 38, 339342 (doi:10.3189/172756404781815284)
Schneebeli, M, Pielmeier, C and Johnson, JB (1999) Measuring snow microstructure and hardness using a high resolution penetrometer. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 30(1–3), 101114 (doi: 10.1016/S0165–232X(99)00030–0)
Schweizer, J and Wiesinger, T (2001) Snow profile interpretation for stability evaluation. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 33(2–3), 179188 (doi: 10.1016/S0165–232X(01)00036–2)
Schweizer, J, Jamieson, JB and Schneebeli, M (2003) Snow avalanche formation. Rev. Geophys., 41(4), 1016 (doi: 10.1029/2002RG000123)
Shapiro, LH, Johnson, JB, Sturm, M and Blaisdell, GL (1997) Snow mechanics: review of the state of knowledge and applications. CRREL Rep. 97–3
Sigrist, C, Schweizer, J, Schindler, H-J and Dual, J (2006) The energy release rate of mode II fractures in layered snow samples. Int. J. Frac., 139(3–4), 461475 (doi: 10.1007/s10704–006–6580–9)
Srivastava, PK, Mahajan, P, Satyawali, PK and Kumar, V (2010) Observation of temperature gradient metamorphism in snow by X-ray computed microtomography: measurement of microstructure parameters and simulation of linear elastic properties. Ann. Glaciol., 51(54), 7382 (doi: 10.3189/172756410791386571)
Stoffel, M and Bartelt, P (2003) Modelling snow slab release using a temperature-dependent viscoelastic finite element model with weak layers. Surv. Geophys., 24(5–6), 417430 (doi: 10.1023/B:GEOP.0000006074.56474.43)
Theile, T, Löwe, H, Theile, TC and Schneebeli, M (2011) Simulating creep of snow based on microstructure and the anisotropic deformation of ice. Acta Mater., 59(18), 71047113 (doi:10.1016/j.actamat.2011.07.065)
Van Herwijnen, A, Bellaire, S and Schweizer, J (2009) Comparison of micro-structural snowpack parameters derived from penetration resistance measurements with fracture character observations from compression tests. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 59(2–3), 193201 (doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2009.06.006)
Van Rietbergen, B, Weinans, H, Huiskes, R and Odgaard, A (1995) A new method to determine trabecular bone elastic properties and loading using micromechanical finite-element models.J. Biomech., 28(1), 6981 (doi: 10.1016/0021–9290(95)80008–5)
Van Rietbergen, B, Odgaard, A, Kabel, J and Huiskes, R (1996) Direct mechanics assessment of elastic symmetries and properties of trabecular bone architecture. J. Biomech., 29(12), 16531657 (doi: 10.1016/S0021–9290(96)80021–2)
Winkler, K and Schweizer, J (2009) Comparison of snow stability tests: extended column test, rutschblock test and compression test. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 59(2–3), 217226 (doi: 10.1016/j.coldregions.2009.05.003)

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed