Active rock glacier

Elevation: 2460-2700m  -   Massif: Valais Alps (Arolla)  -   Commune: Evolène (VS)

Because its front directly feeds rock debris into a torrential gully, the Tsarmine rock glacier is a well-suited site to study sedimentary transfers. Displacement measurements of the rock glacier started in 2004 and show velocities of several meters per year. These values are considerably higher than those determined during previous decades by analyzing former aerial images. This site is integrated into the “Kinematics” section of the PERMOS (PERmafrost MOnitoring in Switzerland) network.


  • Measurements and observations

    Thermal (ground surface temperature : GST)
    Geodetic (GPS)
    Remote sensing (LiDAR, photogrammetry)

  • Figures

    Webcam Tsarmine 1: current image, side view.



    Webcam Tsarmine 2: current image, front view.



    Timelapse based on selected webcam images



    Measured horizontal flow field (mean annual velocity).



    Seasonal horizontal surface velocity. Mean of a set of points selected in the most terminal (red), median (green) and upper (blue) sections of the rock glacier.



    3D surface velocity derived from a permanent GNSS station installed a few tens of meters upstream of the front line (the station was moved upwards in 2016).



  • Collaboration

    University of Lausanne, Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics (C. Lambiel)

    Commune of Evolène

    Service des forêts, des cours d'eau et du paysage du Canton du Valais

    Geosat SA

    ID electronic SA

  • Publications

    Kummert, M., Braillard, L., Delaloye, R., Bodin, X. (2021). Pluri-decadal evolution of rock glaciers surface velocity and its impact on sediment export rates towards high alpine torrents. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 46(15), 3213-3227. DOI: 10.1002/esp.5231

    Strozzi, T., Caduff, R., Jones, N., Barboux, C., Delaloye, R., Bodin X., Kääb, A., Mätzler, E., Schrott, L. (2020). Monitoring Rock Glacier Kinematics with Satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar. Remote Sensing, 12, 559. DOI: 10.3390/rs12030559

    PERMOS 2019. Permafrost in Switzerland 2014/2015 to 2017/2018. Noetzli, J., Pellet, C., and Staub, B. (eds.), Glaciological Report (Permafrost) No. 16-19 of the Cryospheric Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences, 104 pp, DOI:10.13093/permos-rep-2019-16-19.  

    Kummert, M. & Delaloye, R. (2018). Mapping and quantifying sediment transfer between the front of rapidly moving rock glaciers and torrential gullies. Geomorphology 309, 60-76. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.02.021

    Kummert, M., Delaloye, R. and Braillard, L. (2017). Erosion and sediment transfer processes at the front of rapidly moving rock glaciers: systematic observations with automatic cameras in the western Swiss Alps. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 29, 21-33. DOI: 10.1002/ppp.1960

    Delaloye, R. et Lambiel, C. (2017). Suivis par GPS et webcam de glaciers rocheux à mouvement rapide. In : Malet, E. et Astrade, L. (eds), Monitoring en milieux naturels - Retours d’expériences en terrains difficiles. Collection EDYTEM 19, 37-46. (pdf)

    Delaloye, R. & Staub., B. (2016). Seasonal variations of rock glacier creep: time series observations from the Western Swiss Alps. In: Günther, F. and Morgenstern, A. (Eds.) (2016): XI. International Conference On Permafrost – Book of Abstracts, 20 – 24 June 2016, Potsdam, Germany. Bibliothek Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein. 22-23. (pdf)

    PERMOS (2016). Permafrost in Switzerland 2010/2011 to 2013/2014. Noetzli, J., Luethi, R., and Staub, B. (eds.), Glaciological Report (Permafrost) No. 12-15 of the Cryospheric Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences, 85 pp.  (pdf) 

    Barboux, C., Delaloye R. and Lambiel, C. (2014). Inventorying slope movements in an Alpine environment using DInSAR. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 39/15, p2087-2099. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3603

    Barboux, C., Delaloye, R., Lambiel, C., Strozzi, T., Collet, C. and Raetzo, H. (2013). Surveying the activity of permafrost landforms in the Valais Alps with InSAR. In: Graf, C. (ed.) Mattertal – ein Tal in Bewegung. Publikation zur Jahrestagung der Schweizerischen Geomorphologischen Gesellschaft 29. Juni – 1. Juli 2011, St. Niklaus. Birmensdorf, Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL. 7–19. (pdf)

    PERMOS (2013). Permafrost in Switzerland 2008/2009 and 2009/2010. Noetzli, J. (ed.), Glaciological Report (Permafrost) No. 10/11 of the Cryospheric Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences, 80 pp. (pdf)

    Delaloye, R., Lambiel, C. and Gärtner-Roer, I. (2010). Overview of rock glacier kinematics research in the Swiss Alps. Seasonal rhythm, interannual variations and trends over several decades. Geographica Helvetica, 65/2, 135-145. DOI: 10.5194/gh-65-135-2010

    PERMOS (2010). Permafrost in Switzerland 2006/2007 and 2007/2008. Noetzli, J. and Vonder Muehll, D. (eds.), Glaciological Report (Permafrost) No. 8/9 of the Cryospheric Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences, 68 pp. (pdf)

    Delaloye, R., Strozzi, T., Lambiel, C., Perruchoud, E., Raetzo, H. (2008). Landslide-like development of rockglaciers detected with ERS-1/2 SAR interferometry. Proceedings of the FRINGE 2007 Workshop, Frascati, Italy, 26-30 November 2007 (ESA SP-649, February 2008) (pdf)

    Delaloye, R., Perruchoud, E., Avian, M., Kaufmann, V., Bodin, X., Hausmann, H., Ikeda, A., Kääb, A., Kellerer-Pirklbauer, A., Krainer, K., Lambiel, C., Mihajlovic, D., Staub, B., Roer, I. & Thibert, E. (2008). Recent interannual variations of rockglaciers creep in the European Alps, Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost, July 2008, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1, 343-348. (pdf)

    Lambiel, C., Delaloye, R., Strozzi, T., Lugon & R., Raetzo, H. (2008). ERS InSAR for detecting the rock glacier activity. Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost, July 2008, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1, 1019-1024. (pdf)

    Lambiel C. (2006). Le pergélisol dans les terrains sédimentaires à forte déclivité : distribution, régime thermique et instabilités. Lausanne, Institut de géographie, Travaux et recherches N°33.

    Lambiel, C., Reynard, E., Cheseaux, G. et Lugon, R. (2004). Distribution du pergélisol dans un versant instable, le cas de Tsarmine (Arolla, Evolène, VS). Bulletin de la Murithienne, 122, 89-102.