Simulation of the flow of a snow avalanche


The project intends to achieve a better understanding of the dynamics of snow avalanches so that in case of one, we can calculate what direction it will take. This information is very useful when trying to find people trapped in the snow.

A tool that simulates the flow of snow has been created to study avalanches. Experts in the field who participate in different stages of the project adjust the model following their own criteria.

During the stage of validation, these experts make use of the Turing tests to compare the difference between their simulated model and the data collected from real avalanches.

This is a transdisciplinary project where the following institutions have participated:

  • The Geographic Institute of Catalonia (L’Institut Geogràfic de Catalunya).
  • The Faculty of Geology of the University of Barcelona.
  • The avalanche prediction center of Vall D’Aran Council.

Real information is needed in order to validate any of the simulated models. However, in case of an avalanche usually little or no experimental information on the interior of the flow of snow is collected. This is the reason why a data collection campaign was launched in 2011 thanks to the collaboration of the Council of Vall D’Arán.

The aim of this campaign was to collect as much data on avalanches as possible using:

  • Seismograph (Geology UB).
  • HD filming equipment.
  • Sensors that record the avalanche flow movements (inLab).

This information will give way to the second phase of model validation: analyzing the internal dynamics of the avalanche and continuing to develop the model.

Duration of the project 
January, 2009 - December, 2012
Microsoft Visual Studio,
Visual Basic for Applications,
Especificació SDL,
Project Manager 

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