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Landslide Hazard in a Changing Environment

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Front. Earth Sci. | doi: 10.3389/feart.2018.00210

Multi-source glacial lake outburst flood hazard assessment and mapping for Huaraz, Cordillera Blanca, Peru

 Holger Frey1*,  Christian Huggel1, Patrick Baer1, Rachel E. Chisolm2, Brian McArdell3, Alejo Cochachin4 and César Portocarrero5
  • 1University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2University of Texas at Austin, United States
  • 3Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Switzerland
  • 4Autoridad Nacional del Agua, Peru
  • 5El Instituto Nacional de Investigación de Ecosistemas de Glaciares y Montañas, Peru

The Quillcay catchment in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, contains several glacial lakes, including Lakes Palcacocha (with a volume of 17 x 106 m3), Tullparaju (12 x 106 m3) and Cuchillacocha (2 x 106 m3). In 1941 an outburst of Lake Palcacocha, in one of the deadliest historical glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) worldwide, destroyed large parts of the city of Huaraz, located in the lowermost part of the catchment. Since this outburst, glaciers and glacial lakes in Quillcay catchment have undergone drastic changes, including a volume increase of Lake Palcacocha between around 1990 and 2010 by a factor of 34. In parallel, the population of Huaraz grew exponentially to more than 120,000 inhabitants nowadays, making a comprehensive assessment and mapping of GLOF hazards for the Quillcay catchment and the city of Huaraz indispensable. Here we present a scenario-based multi-source GLOF hazard mapping, applying a chain of interacting numerical models to simulate involved cascading mass movement processes. Susceptibility assessments for rock-ice avalanches and breach formation at moraine dams were used to define scenarios of different magnitudes and related probabilities, which are then simulated by corresponding mass movement models. The evaluation revealed, that (1) the three investigated lakes pose a significant GLOF hazard to the Quillcay Catchment and the city of Huaraz, (2) in some scenarios the highest hazard originates from the lake with the smallest volume (Cuchillacocha), and (3) current moraine characteristics of Lake Palcacocha cannot be compared to the situation prior and during the 1941 outburst. Results of outburst floods obtained by the RAMMS model were then converted into intensity maps and corresponding hazard levels according to national and international standards, and eventually combined into the GLOF hazard map for the entire Quillcay catchment, including the urban area of Huaraz. Besides technical aspects of such a multi-source model-based hazard mapping, special attention is also paid to approval and dissemination aspects in a complex institutional context. Finally, some general conclusions are drawn and recommendations are given, that go beyond the presented case of the Quillcay Catchment.

Keywords: dissemination, GLOF, Hazard assessment and mapping, Process chains, Numerical modeling, hazard and risk communication, Institutional aspects, DRR

Received: 17 Jul 2018; Accepted: 31 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Davide Tiranti, Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione Ambientale (ARPA), Italy

Reviewed by:

Fabio Matano, Italian National Research Council, Italy
Dhananjay A. Sant, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India  

Copyright: © 2018 Frey, Huggel, Baer, Chisolm, McArdell, Cochachin and Portocarrero. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Holger Frey, University of Zurich, Zürich, CH-8006, Zürich, Switzerland,