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Impact of Avalanches Studied in Iceland

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Impact of Avalanches Studied in Iceland

View from Flateyri

Flateyri, the West Fjords. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

A study into the impact of avalanches when they hit steel levies, set up to protect roads in Iceland, has been launched by Norway-based Icelandic engineer Árni Jónsson. One of the objectives is to find out if the design of the levies can be improved.

While the levies have proven their value, what happens when they’re struck by an avalanche at full force is unknown, ruv.is reports.

In 2011, three powerful, three-meter (nine-feet) high steel levies were established above the road across Ólafsfjarðarmúli, leading to Ólafsfjörður in North Iceland. Yet when avalanches hit the levies, snow sometimes flows over them.

Equipment, including sensors which will measure the power of the impact of avalanches, has now been set up to conclude, among other things, whether the levies should be made taller and whether less expensive material can be used in their design.

The levies cost ISK 50-60 million (USD 375,000, EUR 331,000) when they were put up.

Similar constructions exist above the road across Eyrarhlíð to Ísafjörður in the West Fjords and in other areas where avalanches are frequent.

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