Debris Flow Game and New Design Manual

Screenshot of debris flow game MurGame by WSL

Debris flows are a significant geologic hazard that affect communities around the world. Their destructive potential has been evident in North America in recent years, but the Swiss have been at the forefront of debris flow mitigation analysis and design.

The Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) published a new debris flow mitigation design manual several years ago that has recently been translated into English. The manual is called “Practical guide for debris flow and hillslope debris flow protection nets“.

The WSL has also been involved in the creation of a free game – – that allows players to build their very own Swiss village and then simulate small or large debris flows. You can build various mitigation structures such as check dams, bedload retention basins, fences, and then see their effect on a small and a large debris flow. The game uses over 1,200 pre-loaded scenarios run through the RAMMS software to model the debris flows with various village configurations. The game compares the cost of the mitigation works to the cost of damage. The public also weighs in with their “acceptance” of various mitigation elements. What a great way to educate people about debris flows!

Thank you to Tim Shevlin at Geobrugg for sharing this info at the TRB conference!