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Engineers require impact scenarios when developing hazard mitigation strategies to protect structures against snow avalanches. Since direct measurements of avalanche impacts on large obstacles are rare, the documentation and post-event analysis of avalanche damages is essential to understand the interaction of avalanches with obstacles. The objective of this paper is to develop hazard scenarios for avalanche actions on bridges, based on a case study of a well-documented avalanche event. The 40 m long pre-stressed road bridge Ri di Rialp in the Swiss Alps collapsed after being struck by a dense-flow avalanche in 1998. The post-event analysis shows that the controlling hazard scenario was an inclined avalanche impact, not a horizontal impact as one would assume given the topographical situation. Using a failure analysis, an impact angle of 40° and a minimal impact pressure of 172 kN m−2 were found. Finally the insights are summarized so that engineers can apply the results when designing a bridge at risk from avalanches.
Results of acoustic emission tests on cylindrical specimens under compression are reported. Deformation-rate-controlled tests with strain rates ranging from 1.1 × 10-6 s-1 to 2.6 × 10-3 s-1 at temperatures between T = -11.2°Cand T = -1.7°C were performed. The investigated snow was fine-grained, with a density varying between 220 and 380 kgm-3. The acoustic emission was measured with two distinct piezoelectric sensors: a wide-band sensor (frequency 100–1000 kHz) and a resonant sensor (frequency 35–100 kHz). The relationship between the applied strain rate and the measured maximum acoustic-emission rate as a function of temperature and density was found to obey a power law, which is valid for the ductile behaviour range. The quantitative and qualitative effects produced on the acoustic emissions during the transition from ductile to brittle behaviour, occurring at strain rates of approximately 1 × 10-3 s-1, are reported. Finally, the influence of the load history on the acoustic emissions of snow is discussed on the basis of a cyclic test, including deformation-controlled loading steps and relaxation steps, performed at different strain rates and different relaxation times.
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