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Structure from Motion Using Drone Technology to Map Glacial Lake Outburst Flood Terrain

Authors: Jonathan Burton*, University of Colorado Denver, Frederick Chambers, PhD, University of Colorado Denver, Cris Henriquez, University of Colorado Denver, Matthew Cross, PhD, University of Colorado Denver
Topics: South America, Cryosphere, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Glacial Lake Outburst Flood, Glacier, GLOF, Structure from Motion
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) pose an increasing hazard to communities living downstream of glaciated areas due to a proliferation of glacial lakes in both size and quantity, a result of increased warming in recent years. Many outlet glaciers of the Northern Patagonia Icefield (NPI) have experienced several catastrophic GLOFs in recent decades. Understanding past events will help to understand and prepare for future occurrences. Our research sought to utilize unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery to derive high-resolution (< 5cm) digital elevation models (DEM), to understand the hydrodynamics of a GLOF which took place March 16, 1989, in the Valle Soler of the NPI. Using the 3D DEM, flood parameters will be constrained to better describe this significant GLOF event. Initial calculated flood volume was in excess of 135,000,000 m3 while the peak discharge was approximately 20,000 m3/s. This newly calculated flood discharge value distinguishes this event as the largest recorded glacial moraine outburst flood in the literature and is significantly larger than previous estimates (1,800 – 2,000 m3/s) for this incident.

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