Rock Avalanches in a Changing Landscape Following the Melt Down of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet, Norway Open image in new window

  • Markus SchleierEmail author
  • Reginald L. Hermanns
  • Joachim Rohn
Conference paper


Rock avalanches can form complex deposits for which the interpretation can be challenging, especially if they occur in valleys affected by other ‘fast’ geological processes, such as, glaciations or isostatic rebound. The mountains of western Norway enable to study rock avalanches in such a complex geological setting. Within the two valleys of Innerdalen and Innfjorddalen (~70 km afar), several rock avalanches occurred since the Late Pleistocene. The rock avalanches in Innerdalen have volumes of 31 × 106 and 23 × 106 m3 and yielded terrestrial cosmogenic nuclide 10Be ages of 14.1 ± 0.4 and 7.97 ± 0.94 ka, while those in Innfjorddalen have volumes of 15.1 × 106, 5.4 × 106 and 0.3 × 106 m3 and yielded ages of 14.3 ± 1.4, 8.79 ± 0.92 ka and 1611–12 CE, respectively. Although being of nearly similar age, the rock avalanches in both valleys occurred under different environmental settings associated with the decay of the Scandinavian ice sheet. One of which fell onto a retreating valley glacier, partly depositing as supraglacial debris (Innerdalen), while the contemporaneous one fell into a fjord, partly forming a subaqueous deposit which is today exposed due to post-glacial isostatic uplift (Innfjorddalen). The younger rock avalanches fell into the ice-free valleys onto the older rock-avalanche deposits. All of the observed rock avalanches are preserved in rock-boulder deposits distributed on the valley floor and its slopes showing a variety of geomorphological features and landforms, which are diagnostic for their paleodynamics. Numerical runout modeling using DAN3D supports the landform interpretations, which are further confirmed by 10Be ages of the rock-avalanche deposits. The presented description of rock-avalanche deposits can enable a better identification and interpretation of similar deposits in other mountain areas and contributes to the knowledge of Quaternary landscape evolution in western Norway, such as, ice-sheet thickness and post-glacial isostatic rebound.


Rock avalanche Supraglacial rock avalanche Subaqueous rock avalanche Post-glacial isostatic rebound Innerdalen and Innfjorddalen Western Norway 



We thank the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) for financial support for field work under the project “Rock avalanche mapping in Møre og Romsdal County”. R.L. Hermanns got funding to contribute to this publication through the NFR-funded CryoWALL project (243,784/CLE). We acknowledge J.C. Gosse, G. Yang and S. Zimmerman for their contribution for 10Be dating, and O. Hungr for providing the DAN3D code. This contribution is based on two sub-chapters of the senior author’s doctoral thesis.


  1. Blikra LH, Longva O, Braathen A, Anda E, Dehls JF, Stalsberg K (2006) Rock slope failures in Norwegian fjord areas: examples, spatial distribution and temporal pattern. In: Evans SG, Scarascia Mugnozza G, Strom A, Hermanns RL (eds) Landslides from massive rock slope failure. NATO Science Series IV: Earth and Environmental Sciences 49. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 475–496Google Scholar
  2. Böhme M, Oppikofer T, Longva O, Jaboyedoff M, Hermanns RL, Derron MH (2015) Analyses of past and present rock slope instabilities in a fjord valley: implications for hazard estimations. Geomorphology 248:464–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dehls JF, Olesen O, Bungum H, Hicks EC, Lindholm CD, Riis F (2000) Neotectonic map: Norway and adjacent Areas. Geological Survey of Norway, TrondheimGoogle Scholar
  4. Evans SG, Delaney KB, Hermanns RL, Strom A, Scarascia-Mugnozza G (2011) The formation and behaviour of natural and artificial rockslide dams; implications for engineering performance and hazard management. In: Evans SG, Hermanns RL, Strom A, Scarascia-Mugnozza G (eds) Natural and artificial rockslide dams. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences 133. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp 1–75Google Scholar
  5. Fjeldskaar W, Lindholm C, Dehls JF, Fjeldskaar I (2000) Postglacial uplift, neotectonics and seismicity in Fennoscandia. Quat Sci Rev 19:1413–1422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gosse JC, Phillips FM (2001) Terrestrial in situ cosmogenic nuclides: theory and application. Quat Sci Rev 20:1475–1560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hansen L, Høgaas F, Sveian H, Olsen L, Rindstad BI (2014) Quaternary geology as a basis for landslide susceptibility assessment in fine-grained, marine deposits, onshore Norway. In: L’Heureux J-S, Locat A, Leroueil S, Demers D, Locat J (eds) Landslides in sensitive clays. Springer, Netherlands, pp 369–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hermanns RL, Hansen L, Sletten K, Böhme M, Bunkholt HSS, Dehls JF, Eilertsen RS, Fischer L, L’Heureux J-S, Høgaas F, Nordahl B, Oppikofer T, Rubensdotter L, Solberg I-L, Stalsberg K, Yugsi Molina FX (2012) Systematic geological mapping for landslide understanding in the Norwegian context. In: Eberhardt E, Froese C, Turner K, Leroueil S (eds) Landslides and engineered slopes: protecting society through improved understanding. Taylor & Francis Group, London, pp 265–271Google Scholar
  9. Hermanns RL, Schleier M, Gosse JC (2016) Ages of rock-avalanche deposits allow tracing the decay of the scandinavian ice sheet. In: 32nd Nordic geological winter meeting, Helsinki, 13–15 Jan 2016Google Scholar
  10. Hermanns RL, Schleier M, Böhme M, Blikra LH, Gosse JC, Ivy-Ochs S (submitted) Rock-avalanche activity in western and southern Norway peaks in the first millennia after the retread of the scandinavian ice sheet. In: Proceedings of the 4th World Landslide Forum (this issue)Google Scholar
  11. Hewitt K, Gosse J, Clague JJ (2011) Rock avalanches and the pace of late Quaternary development of river valleys in the Karakoram Himalaya. Geol Soc Am Bull 123:1836–1850CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hughes ALC, Gyllencreutz R, Lohne ØS, Mangerud J, Svendsen JI (2016) The last Eurasian ice sheets—a chronological database and time-slice reconstruction, DATED-1. Boreas 45:1–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McDougall S, Hungr O (2004) A model for the analysis of rapid landslide motion across three-dimensional terrain. Can Geotech J 41:1084–1097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. NGU (2015) Online database: Nasjonal løsmassedatabase—Standardkart: marin grense. Norges geologiske undersøkelse. Last accessed: 13 Jan 2015
  15. Schleier M, Hermanns RL, Rohn J, Gosse J (2015) Diagnostic characteristics and paleodynamics of supraglacial rock avalanches, Innerdalen, Western Norway. Geomorphology 245:23–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Schleier M, Hermanns RL, Gosse JC, Oppikofer T, Rohn J, Tønnesen JF (2016) Subaqueous rock-avalanche deposits exposed by post-glacial isostatic rebound, Innfjorddalen, Western Norway. Geomorphology (in press)Google Scholar
  17. Shulmeister J, Davies TR, Evans DJA, Hyatt OM, Tovar DS (2009) Catastrophic landslides, glacier behaviour and moraine formation—A view from an active platemargin. Quat Sci Rev 28:1085–1096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sollid JL, Sørbel L (1979) Deglaciation of Western Central Norway. Boreas 8:233–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Tveten E, Lutro O, Thorsnes T (1998) Geologisk Kart over Norge, Berggrunnskart Ålesund, 1:250,000. Geological Survey of Norway, TrondheimGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Schleier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Reginald L. Hermanns
    • 2
    • 3
  • Joachim Rohn
    • 1
  1. 1.GeoZentrum NordbayernUniversity of Erlangen-Nuremberg ErlangenErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Geological Survey of NorwayTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Department of Geology and Mineral Resources EngineeringNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

Personalised recommendations