WIT Press

Debris Flow Research In Russia And The Former Soviet Union: History And Perspectives


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K. N. Nosov, S. S. Chernomorets, O. V. Tutubalina & E. V. Zaporozhchenko


Studies of debris flows in the Russian Empire started in the 1860s. At that time expeditions were organized to study the ice-rock collapses that were blocking the trans-Caucasian road. In 1859 B. Statkowsky introduced the term sel’ (debris flow), an Arabic word current among nations of the Caucasus. Later debris flows were studied in the Caucasus, the Carpathians, the mountains of Central Asia and Siberia, in Kamchatka Peninsula etc. Debris flow conferences were organised by experts from Kazakhstan, Georgia, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (24 conferences in 1949–1982). The late 1950–80s were \“the golden thirty years” of the Soviet debris flow science. A strong school of experts worked in ministries, institutes, universities and hydrometeorological service. A Debris Flow Commission was established for co-ordination of all activities. Following a number of disastrous debris flows, manuals for monitoring debris flows were written. Various protective infrastructures were built. The collapse of the USSR (1991) has divided the debris flow community by the new state boundaries. The economic crisis of the 1990s hit hard, and only now this science is reactivated due to large debris flow disasters of the early 21 st century in the Caucasus. Three conferences have been organised. In 2005, the Debris Flow Association (DFA) was established in Russia as a professional society of experts (http://www.rsk.land.ru/index_eng.htm). It has now been joined by members from other countries. A Russian debris flow bibliography for 1968–2005 is being prepared for publication. The DFA plans to organise an international debris flow conference in Russia in 2008. Keywords: debris flow, mudflow, Russia, Former Soviet Union, research.


debris flow, mudflow, Russia, Former Soviet Union, research.