12 June 2023
A large rock avalanche from Flüchthorn in the Austrian Alps
Loyal reader Jakob Steiner (@jakobfsteiner) kindly highlighted an interesting rock avalanche that occurred from the flanks of Flüchthorn in the Austrian Alps yesterday (11 June 2023). Flüchthorn, also known as Piz Fenga as it straddles the border with Switzerland, is a 3,399 m high peak in the Silvretta Alps in Europe. The location of the mountain is [46.891, 10.227].
Südliches Fluchthorn, Galtür. Nur ein paar Grad mehr, oder? pic.twitter.com/k63rHXo2ha
— Gebi Mair (@gebimair) June 12, 2023
The video, which was shot by Patrick Schöpf, captures both the collapse of the ridge and the resultant rock avalanche. Fortunately, it is thought that no-one was in the path of the landslide.
The Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung has a short article about the landslide (in German, but Google Translate is effective). It reports that the cross on the summit of the mountain has been removed – I guess Flüchthorn might be a little less tall now – and that the runout of the rock avalanche was about 2km. This image shows the track of the rock avalanche:-
Interestingly, there is a video on Twitter that shows a flood lower on the mountain. I suspect that this will have come from the ice incorporated in the mass that collapsed from Flüchthorn, which would have been melted by the heat generated in the landslide.
It is interesting that this failure occurred in June. There is evidence from Alaska that large mountain collapses occur preferentially in the Spring and early Summer, and that they are associated with climate change. Clusters of events were loosely associated with El Nino periods. As we are just entering an El Nino event, and global temperatures are at unprecedented levels for this time of year, we are in for an interesting time.