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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 11 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 3065-3075, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-14-3065-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 20 Nov 2014

Research article | 20 Nov 2014

The 1988 glacial lake outburst flood in Guangxieco Lake, Tibet, China

J.-J. Liu1,2,3, Z.-L. Cheng1, and Y. Li1 J.-J. Liu et al.
  • 1Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment & Key Laboratory of Mountain Hazards and Surface Process, Chinese Academy of Sciences & Ministry of Water Conservancy, Chengdu, 610041, China
  • 2State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing, 100038, China
  • 3Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100039, China

Abstract. The 1988 glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in Guangxieco Lake is studied based on geomorphological evidence, interviews with local residents, field surveys in 1990 and 2007, and satellite images from different years. The findings are as follows. (1) The outburst event was caused by two major factors, namely, intense pre-precipitation and persistent high temperatures before the outburst and the low self-stability of the terminal moraine dam as a result of perennial piping. (2) The GLOF, with the peak discharge rate of 1270 m3 s−1, evolved along Midui Valley in the following order: sediment-laden flow, viscous debris flow, non-viscous debris flow, and sediment-laden flood, which was eventually blocked by Palongzangbu River. (3) A comparison between the conditions during the outburst in 1988 and the present conditions suggests a small possibility of a future outburst unless drastic changes occur in landscape and climate. Reconstructing the outburst conditions and the GLOF processes is helpful in assessing a potential outburst in glacier lakes in Tibet.

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