To fix the limits of different hazards in the avalanche-hazard maps one uses criteria pertaining to avalanche dynamics. These criteria are at present the velocity and the run-out distance of a given avalanche for a given place. In 1955 A. Voellmy published his theory of avalanche dynamics which has widely been used in practical map preparation. Since 1962 his equations have also been used by the Eidg. Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung (EISLF) to calculate avalanche pressures and run-out distances. Furthermore B. Salm (EISLF) developed another equation for the calculation of run-out distances in 1978. Both the equations of Voellmy and of Salm contain two friction coefficients,
. Little is known about them and opinions, even among specialists, differ on what values should be given to them.
This paper presents field observations on very long run-out distances. These observations are used to calculate values for pairs of µ and ξ. For avalanche zoning, only extreme values are of interest, i.e. very low values for µ and very high values for ξ. For the calibration of those coefficients, ten avalanches from the winters 1915–16, 1967–68, 1974–75, and 1977–78 have been used. Those avalanches occurred during heavy and intense snowfalls. For those avalanches, the pair µ= 0.155, ξ = 1 120 m/s2 was found for the Voellmy equation and the pair µ = 0.157, ξ =1 067 m/s2 for the Salm equation. These values only partially agree with those used up to date by EISLF. It is recommended for example that for extreme flowing avalanches (newly fallen snow, soft slabs) the pair µ = 0.16,ξ = 1 360 m/s2 be used.