Snow Deformation

March 15, 2014


Photographer: Mike Zawaski
Summary Author: Mike Zawaski

When an avalanche occurs snow quickly deforms in a brittle manner by fracturing. However, if the snow is allowed to deform slowly, it'll actually warp or bend. As shown above a small creek in the headwaters of the Arkansas River near Leadville, Colorado, has eroded some of the deeper snow pack forcing the overlying snow to sink inward. The more rigid layer on top of the snow pack has folded in response. Note that the snow pack adjacent to the creek has maintained its thickness. The glove at right center is for scale purposes. The object in the background is a clump of snow that fell off a tree and then rolled down the slope. Photo taken on January 20, 2014.

Photo details: Camera Model: Olympus E-PL1 camera; f/22; 1/320 sec. exposure; ISO-200; 17mm focal length.