Candidate: Barbara Kessler
Supervisors: Kerry Leith, Michael Krautblatter
Institution: Technical University of Munich
Activity: Completed summer 2015
The impact of glacier retreat on rock slope instability since the Last Glacial Maximum is the subject of ongoing debate. Rock slope activity since ice retreat is typically attributed to increased kinematic freedom as a result of erosion during glaciation, debuttressing of valley walls which may have been supported by glacier ice, specific patterns of Holocene seismicity, or an exposure of rock slopes to increased chemical and biological weathering during the present interglacial. Here, rather than looking for a particular driver or trigger for rock slope instability, we evaluate the potential for rock mass degradation in response to an increase in tensile stress or micro-cracking in critically stressed near-surface bedrock (0 – 2 km depth) in the region of the Eibsee rock avalanche to the north of the Zugspitze peak (DE) (Fig. 2.1). Rather than focusing on a specific driver, this allows us to identify regions in which fracture development is likely to be ongoing, and slope stability is therefore decreasing with time.