CNN's Mont Blanc glacier could collapse at any moment, Italy warns says:

A staggering 250,000 cubic meters (8.8 million cubic feet) of ice could break away from the Planpincieux glacier on the Grandes Jorasses mountain in the Mont Blanc massif, experts at the Valle d'Aosta regional government and the Fondazione Montagna Sicura (Safe Mountain Foundation) reported in an analysis published this week.

While it's impossible to predict the exact timing of the collapse, observations in August and September showed that the glacier was shifting at a speed of 50 to 60 centimeters (20 to 24 inches) a day, experts said.

"These phenomena once again show that the mountain is going through a phase of strong change due to climatic factors, therefore it is particularly vulnerable," Stefano Miserocchi, mayor of nearby Courmayeur, said in a statement. "In this case, it's a temperate glacier particularly sensitive to high temperatures."As a precautionary measure, Miserocchi ordered the closure of roads in the Val Ferret valley and the evacuation of mountain huts in the Rochefort area.

The caption of the image in the link (shown below) is labeled Figure 22, so presumably it's from some much larger report.

I'm curious about the choice of the word "collapse". What is it exactly that the glacier might do? Will it collapse in the same way that a Soufflé collapses, or is this more like an avalanche, or does the whole glacier just start sliding much faster, like several meters per day instead of several tens of centimeters currently?

  • $\begingroup$ It says right there in the legend of the picture you linked ;-) $\endgroup$ – Erik Sep 26 '19 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Erik I'm not sure that's an authoritative and exhaustive explanation. However if you are, then you're welcome to post that caption as the answer and we'll see what others think. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 26 '19 at 7:53
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    $\begingroup$ IMHO it's simply the ambiguity of the italian word crolli, the misuse of the word collosare (en: collapse) in other news reports and the following mistranslation(s). Only the word crolli (from crollare) is used in the official statement which may mean collapse or fall. $\endgroup$ – klanomath Sep 28 '19 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ @klanomath that sounds like a good, albeit anticlimactic explanation, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 28 '19 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ BTW: the safety plan is presumably an extension of a similar plan for the nearby Whymper hanging glacier made by the Suisse based "WSL-Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung SLF": PDF-link. I haven't been able to find the newer doc containing above Fig. 22 though. $\endgroup$ – klanomath Sep 28 '19 at 10:31

It means that large parts might break off and cause an ice avalanche or series of avalanches which would go crashing down the valley, killing or destroying anything which got in its way.

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    $\begingroup$ -1 for unsupported/unsourced guess. I'm happy to reverse it if you can cite some supporting references or links, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 26 '19 at 8:34

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