Mont Blanc Glacier in Imminent Danger of Collapse

Ice avalanche could hit nearby valley
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2019 3:19 AM CDT
Mont Blanc Glacier in Imminent Danger of Collapse
This photo taken on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 shows the massive Planpincieux glacier, located in the Alps on the Grande Jorasses peak of the Mont Blanc massif, which straddles the borders of Italy, France and Switzerland and contains the highest peak in Western Europe.   (Comune di Courmayeur, Fondazione Montagna Sicura via AP)

Authorities have closed roads, evacuated mountain huts, and banned access to a hiking area amid fears that a glacier in the Alps is in imminent danger of collapse. Authorities say a massive 9 million-square-foot chunk of the Planpincieux glacier on the Grande Jorasses peak could break away at any time, the BBC reports. The peak, which is on the border between France and Italy, is part of the Mont Blanc mountain range. Daniele Giordan, a geologist at the Italian National Research Council, tells the New York Times that an alarmingly big crevasse has been spotted and could lead to the collapse of a block of ice big enough for an ice avalanche to reach the bottom of a nearby valley.

Experts say the glacier has been moving up to 20 inches a day amid melting caused by unusually high recent temperatures, and it is impossible to predict exactly when a collapse could occur. Giordan says that while the opening of the crevasse may not be directly linked to climate change, rising temperatures have destabilized the glacier, making such events more likely. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the United Nations climate action summit this week that the glacier's impending collapse should be a warning, the Guardian reports. "The news that part of Mont Blanc risks collapsing is a warning that should not leave us indifferent," he said. "It must shake us all and force us to mobilize." (More glacier stories.)

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