April 23, 2024


General Studies Paper 1

Context: Recently, a massive Avalanche hit Sikkim’s Nathu La.

What is Avalanche?

  • An avalanche is a sudden, rapid flow of snow, ice, and debris down a mountain or slope.
  • It can be triggered by various factors such as heavy snowfall, rapid temperature changes, or human activity.
  • Many regions that are prone to avalanches have specialized teams that monitor and control avalanche risks by using various methods such as explosives, snow barriers, and other safety measures.
  • Types:
    • Rock Avalanches (which consist of large segments of shattered rock),
    • Ice Avalanches (which typically occur in the vicinity of a glacier),
    • Debris Avalanches (which contain a variety of unconsolidated materials, such as loose stones and soil).
  • Causes:
    • Weather Conditions:Heavy snowfall, rapid temperature changes, strong winds, and rain can all contribute to avalanche conditions.
    • Slope Conditions: The steepness, orientation, and shape of a slope can contribute to the likelihood of an avalanche occurring. Steep slopes with a convex shape are particularly prone to avalanches.
    • Snowpack Conditions:The structure and stability of the snowpack can also contribute to avalanche conditions. Weak layers of snow or ice within the snowpack can cause it to collapse and trigger an avalanche.
    • Human Activity:Skiers, snowmobilers, and other recreational users can trigger avalanches by their movements on the slope.
    • Natural Events:Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and rockfalls can all trigger avalanches.

How are Avalanches different from Landslides?

  • Avalanches and landslides are both types of mass movements, but they occur in different environments and involve different materials.
  • An avalanche is a rapid flow of snow, ice, and debris down a mountain or slope, while a landslide is a movement of rock, earth, or debris down a slope or cliff.
  • Avalanches typically occur in mountainous areas that have heavy snowfall and steep slopes. On the other hand,landslides can occur in a wide range of environments and can be triggered by various factors such as heavy rainfall, earthquakes, volcanic activity, or human activity.
  • Both avalanches and landslides can be dangerous and potentially deadly, and it is important to take necessary precautions to avoid them.


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