Inundation Modeling of a Potential Glacial Lake Outburst Flood in Huaraz, Peru
By Marcelo A. Somos-Valenzuela, Rachel E. Chisolm, Daene C. McKinney, Denny Rivas
Climate change is causing glaciers to melt and recede, forming lakes or adding large volumes of water to existing glacial lakes. One risk is that the moraines that dam these lakes can fail, releasing a large amount of water and creating a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF).
This happened in 1941, at Lake Palcacocha, Peru, flooding the city of Huaraz and killing several thousand people. Recently, the lake was declared in a state of emergency because its volume has again reached a dangerous level. This study analyzed the likelihood of a GLOF event.
Researchers simulated two scenarios of moraine erosion: a worst-case 56 meter breach and one at 22.5 meters. Modeling showed that flood waters would reach Huaraz 1.06 and 1.20 hours after the avalanche for the 56 meter and 22.5 meter events, respectively. The inundation would be extensive in both events, putting both lives and property at risk.
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