Dendrogeomorphology and high-magnitude snow avalanches: a review and case study
The application of the principles of dendrogeomorphology for the dating of high-magnitude snow avalanches is well established in the natural hazards literature. A variety of methodologies are employed by different authors, however, and no standardization currently exists for appropriate sample sizes, the issue of "weighting" certain tree-ring responses as more important than others, or the minimum number of responding trees required in order to infer an avalanche event. We review the literature of dendrogeomorphology as it applies to snow avalanches, and examine the questions of sample size, type of ring reactions dated and weighted, and minimum responses. We present tree-ring data from two avalanche paths in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, USA, from trees uprooted by major snow avalanches in the winter of 2002. These data provide distinct chronologies of past avalanche events, and also illustrate how the critical choice of a minimum Index Number can affect the number of avalanche events in a final chronology based on tree-ring analysis.