The 67th annual Highway Geology Symposium (HGS) was held at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado on July 11-14, 2016.
The Highway Geology Symposium (HGS) was established to foster a better understanding and closer cooperation between geologists and civil engineers in the highway industry.
To expand its reach, since the initial meeting in 1956, the annual meetings have been held in 32 different states. The 2015 event was held in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. At the 67th edition, as part of the “Young Authors” program, our expert Luca Gobbin from Maccaferri Canada introduced a technical paper titled “Umbrella Structures for avalanches protection as per Western North America snow condition designed according to the Swiss Guidelines”.
As related by our professional, in the Alps mountain range, infrastructures, buildings and human lives are usually protected from avalanches with snow fences as snow bridges, snow rakes and snow nets. These obstacles prevent avalanches from being triggered or to prevent snow movements that could potentially lead to damage.
With that in mind, the Paper underlines, snow fences are not designed to stop an avalanche during its motion, but they are developed to contain the slow initial movements of the snow creating an “upslope stagnation zone” parallel to the slope. This zone is characterized by very high compression stresses. For this reason, snow-supporting structures must be installed in the avalanche-starting zone.
In such conditions, therefore, Umbrella Systems are another suitable solution for avalanches protection just as with the other standard structures mentioned before. This structure is made with an interception panel attached to a tubular post that looks similar to an umbrella. Umbrella structures have been used for more than 20 years in Europe and designed in accordance with typical snow unit weight of the Alps (approx. 270 kg/m3) and according to the technical Swiss Guideline (2007).
This year the Transportation Research Board (TRB) also sponsored a half-day session titled “Geological Modeling: Methods and Methodologies” on July 11th. The session explored the emergence of surface and subsurface modeling in the engineering geology community.