Civil Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-13-2023


The rapid weakening of snow layers that locally accumulate infiltrating liquid water is a well-known mechanism for wet slab avalanche formation. To quantify this process and improve the prediction of these destructive avalanches, a blade hardness gauge (BHG, a.k.a thin blade penetrometer) and SLF snow sensor were used to take 349 targeted paired measurements of strength and LWC, respectively, in the snow above 19 artificially wetted capillary barriers. Using a multiple regression analysis, we develop an expression for the blade hardness of manually wetted snow as a function of LWC, crystal form, and blade hardness prior to wetting. To understand these results in terms of a common measure of snow strength, we also performed a dry snow comparison of the BHG and a shear frame. The two instruments are highly linearly correlated, allowing us to interpret our regression in terms of shear strength when compressive stress is low.


wet snow, avalanches, snow mechanics

Document Type


First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Mark Stone

Second Committee Member

Dr. Ryan Webb

Third Committee Member

Dr. John Stormont

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Jordy Hendrikx