Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/nhess-2016-395
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
19 Dec 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
A 240 year History of Avalanche Risk in the Vosges Mountains from Nonconventional Sources
Florie Giacona1, Nicolas Eckert2, and Brice Martin1 1Centre de recherche sur les Économies les Sociétés les Arts et les Techniques, Université de Haute Alsace, Mulhouse, 68093, France
2UR ETNA, Irstea Grenoble/Université Grenoble Alpes, Saint Martin d'Hères, 38402, France
Abstract. Despite their strong societal impact, systematic documentation of mountain risks remains poor. Thus, snow avalanche chronologies exceeding several decades are exceptional, especially in medium-high mountain ranges where activity can still be significant. This article implements a combination of historical and geographical methods leading to the reconstruction, at the scale of the entire Vosges Massif (north-east of France), of more than seven hundred avalanches that have occurred since the late eighteenth century on 128 paths. The clearly episodic nature of the derived geo-chronology can be explained by three interrelated factors that have changed together over time: the body and reliability of sources, social practices conditioning the vulnerability, and the natural hazard itself. Finally, the geo-chronology primarily reflects the evolution of the meaning of the hazard in the social space. Specifically, the event which could be retrieved from the historical sources is an aspect of the interaction between society and its environment. These results confirm the role of the historian in contextualizing and evaluating such data, transforming them into information relevant for risk changes understanding and mitigation. They also highlight the importance of constructing an original database from a diverse suite of historical data, and testing its fidelity using field investigations at an appropriate spatial scale. This general approach is of great utility for investigating other risk phenomena in the frequent situation where conventional sources are sparse and problematic to assemble.

Citation: Giacona, F., Eckert, N., and Martin, B.: A 240 year History of Avalanche Risk in the Vosges Mountains from Nonconventional Sources, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/nhess-2016-395, in review, 2016.
Florie Giacona et al.
Florie Giacona et al.
Florie Giacona et al.

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This article implements a combination of historical and geographical methods leading to the reconstruction in the Vosges Massif of more than 700 avalanches that have occurred since the late eighteenth century. Results confirm the role of the historian in contextualizing and evaluating such data, transforming them into information relevant for risk changes understanding. The approach is of great utility in the frequent situation where conventional sources are sparse and problematic to assemble.
This article implements a combination of historical and geographical methods leading to the...
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