Setting off an avalanche - on purpose

It takes years to have the optimum conditions to cause an avalanche for research purposes. Controlled blasts at a test site in Vallée de la Sionne will help scientists further understand this phenomenon. (SRF/

This content was published on February 4, 2015 minutes

Avalanches in Switzerland have killed 248 people in the last ten years. In the latest deadly snow slides on Saturday, eight people lost their lives.  

The Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, SLF, has been around since the 1930s. One of their main research fields is to provide new measures to be better prepared for avalanches.  

The SLF publishes avalanche bulletins to warn both tourists and residents in Switzerland’s alpine regions on the latest snow situations. This is thanks to years of studying how avalanches form. Some research areas are aimed at predicting more precisely when, why and where an avalanche will be triggered.

In early February a new simulation took place at the SLF avalanche dynamics test site in Vallée de la Sionne. The last one happened in 2012. Data from the experiment will provide new insights and will help with the creation of more precise avalanche models.

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?