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Magnificent rebounding rocks in Ticino, Switzerland.


The highly mobile boulders at Ticino in Switzerland.

Dave Petley, the author of The Landslide Blog, is a renowned expert in the field of landslides and highly regarded for his contributions to their study and management.

Image of a landslide partially covered with a transparent sand-colored overlay and the words “The Landslide Blog,” centered, in white

One of the most dangerous types of landslides is caused by boulders that are capable of moving quickly. In the past few years, there have been several instances of these events captured on mobile phones, including the well-known boulder at Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains. Additionally, major earthquakes have demonstrated the destructive power of these fast-moving rocks, as seen with the case of Rocky after the Canterbury earthquakes in New Zealand.

Every now and then, a video comes out that continues to amaze me. One such video was shared on Instagram by hiker Endy Riccio while hiking at Chüebodengletscher in Ticino, Switzerland. The landslide is said to have happened at 5:42 pm on September 6, 2023, during clear weather conditions.

Please take a look at this post on Instagram.

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One noticeable element in the video is the enormous boulder that is featured in the beginning, as seen in this screenshot:

The highly mobile boulder at Ticino in Switzerland.

The large and easily movable rock located in Ticino, Switzerland. Image captured from a video shared on Instagram by Endy Riccio.

However, it is important to also consider the smaller but still significant boulder that rebounds to a greater height at a later point in the sequence.

This is an excellent demonstration of the significant movement that can occur when boulders rapidly rotate on steep inclines. In such conditions, bouncing can facilitate their transport over long distances.

The Chüebodengletscher glacier is situated at coordinates [46.499, 8.448]. The probable site of the landslide seems to be depicted in the image below.

Google Earth image of the most likely location of the highly mobile boulders in Ticino, Switzerland.

An image from Google Earth showing the probable location of the swiftly moving large rocks in Ticino, Switzerland.

The footage showcases the dangers of getting caught in such occurrences. As global warming accelerates the temperature rise in higher altitude areas, rock slides are becoming a greater threat to mountain climbers.

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Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

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