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Planpincieux glacier (Mt Blanc) destabilized, could partially collapse

Planpincieux Glacier in the Mt Blanc masiff has partially destabilized, part of it could collapse. About 250 000 cubic meters – equivalent to a cube about 65 m high – may break away from the glacier and hurtle down the mountain. Local authorities have closed roads and started evacuations.

Planpincieux Glacier is approximately 2.45 km long and covers an area of 1.33 square kilometers, between 3660 and 2345 m elevation. It is located on a steep slope, with about 30° inclination and is a hanging glacier, with the front located over a steep break in the slope. The measured displacement rate in the summer is 30-50 cm per day. It has sped up recently and a large crack is being monitored, separating destabilized mass from the remainder of the glacier.

Time lapse of the Planipincieux glacier in spring 2015. Video: CNR IRPI

Local authorities in Courmayeur have evacuated mountain huts in the area and closed roads is Val Ferret as a precaution. It is estimated that there is no threat to residential areas or tourist resorts.

There have been notable incidents in the past. In August 1984 an internal pocket of melt water emptied in a glacier flood, damaging a road and bridge downstream. On December 21st, 1952 a major ice avalanche covered a distance of 4 km. On June 17th, 2019 another glacier flood occurred, reaching as far as 13 km from the glacier, eroding the (Montita stream) valley floor and sweeping away a bridge.

Grandes Jorasses south slope in the summer. Planpincieux Glacier is on the left. Photo: @Arjuno3.

Live feed from the glacier: