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Report on conference and field training mission to Peru

5-20 March 2007


In our SfP proposal we targeted attendance at the 2nd Alexander Von Humboldt Conference in Lima as a project priority. The conference on The Role of Geophysics in Natural Disaster Prevention was held in Lima, Peru ( on March 5-9. The conference served as a major forum in which to outline our project to the international community and to report on project results so far. Two oral presentations were given and attracted much professional interest: by Dr. D. Petrakov, outlining the unique features of glacier disasters as a special type of glacial hazards, and by Dr. I. Kargapolova on river channel dynamics in the context of climate change. A poster summarizing our project and a second one on project results were presented in a poster session by Dr. S. Chernomorets and Dr. O. Tutubalina. A number of visits and useful research contacts were made in Lima.

In addition, Peruvian glaciologists, working in tandem with Peruvian civil engineers, have been the most successful in the world at mitigating glacial hazards. These hazards are particularly concentrated in the Cordillera Blanca in the vicinity of Huaraz, Ancash region, in the Andes northwest of Lima. A field training component was added to activities in Peru to allow project members to meet with Peruvian experts in the field and actually inspect glacial lakes and the sites of major glacial disasters that have occurred in the vicinity of Huaraz since 1935. Field excursions and discussions were arranged with Peruvian glaciologists to this effect during the period March 12-18, including meetings with the internationally known expert on glacial hazards, Ing. Marco Zapata (INRENA - Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales, Huaraz). As noted by Mr. Zapata, the Cordillera Blanca experiences higher glacier recession rates and higher level of glacial hazard that the Caucasus. This situation, in the view of the current climate forecasts, is instructive to look at as a possible picture of hazards in the Caucasus in 30-40 years time. It is anticipated that lessons learned in the Cordillera Blanca will be usefully applied to glacier hazard mitigation strategies in the Caucasus.

The Russian contingent (including 3 young scientists) benefited greatly from both conference attendance and the Huaraz field training, which, it is noted could not be achieved elsewhere.


Five project participants have attended the Lima meeting and the field training in Huaraz. They are:

  • Prof. Stephen G. Evans (NPD, University of Waterloo, Canada)

  • Dr. Sergey Chernomorets (PPD, UCEGM, Moscow)

  • Dr. Olga Tutubalina (UCEGM, Moscow)

  • Dr. Dmitry Petrakov (Co-director, Moscow State University)

  • Dr. Irina Kargapolova (Moscow State University)

Additionally a representative of our end-user Dr. Eduard Zaporozhchenko (Sevkavgiprovodkhoz Institute, Pyatigorsk, Russia) took part in this mission together with us but on his own funding.

2nd Alexander von Humboldt (AVH2) conference

The following four presentations were delivered (name of the presenter/author in attendance in bold):

Date Presentation code Authors Title
Wednesday 7 March AVH2-A-00120 Evans, S.G.; Chernomorets, S.S.; Petrakov, D.A.; Tutubalina, O.V.; Hungr, O. Prediction of glacial hazards and disasters in the Central Caucasus, Russia
Wednesday 7 March AVH2-A-00122 Chernomorets, S. ; Petrakov, D.; Tutubalina, O.V.; Krylenko, I.N.; Zaporozhchenko, E.V. Glacial lake outburst hazard in the Russian Caucasus: identification and forecast
Thursday 8 March AVH2-A-00101 Petrakov, D.A.; Chernomorets, S.S.; Evans, S.G. ; Tutubalina, O.V. Glacier disasters as a specific type of glacial hazard
Friday 9 March AVH2-A-00160 Kargapolova, I.N. River channel response to climate change

Dr. Petrakovs oral presentation on glacier disasters initiated lively professional interest. One of the reasons can be that Peru has experienced such events (Mt Huascaran area, 1970, 1962 and prehistoric events. This and poster session discussions resulted in several useful professional acquaintances.


Project participants at the AVH2 conference (front row: Dr. I.N. Kargapolova, Dr. D.A. Petrakov; back row: Dr. E.V. Zaporozhchenko, Dr. S.S. Chernomorets, Dr. O.V. Tutubalina, Prof. S.G. Evans).


Presentation of Dr. I.N. Kargapolova


Dr. S.S. Chernomorets, Dr. E.V. Zaporozhchenko, Dr. O.V. Tutubalina present project posters


Presentation of Dr. D.A. Petrakov

Business visits in Lima

These included visits to several institutions involved with geohazards research in Peru:

INGEMMET (Sector Energia y Minas; Instituto Geologico Minero y Metalurgico, Av. Canada No1470, San Borja Lima 41 - Peru Apartado 889). The visit to this institute, which Professor S.G.Evans previously visited in 2004, started with an excursion, talks with the Executive director Dr. Jose Machare Ordonez, and provision of support letters for subsequent field training in the Ancash region. It continued by detailed examination of geomorphological maps for the Ancash region in the section of environmental geology (Geologia Ambiental), as presented by Ing. Patricio Valderrama and Ing. Lionel Fidel. Twelve members of the institute have joined the Debris Flow Association, an international professional body founded in Russia in 2005, where Dr. Zaporozhchenko currently serves as a Vice-President, and Dr. Chernomorets as a Scientific Secretary. Maps and materials on geohazards were exchanged and further contacts agreed upon.

Instituto Geofisico del Peru (Calle Badajoz 169 Urb. Mayorazgo IV Etapa, Ate Lima - Peru). We were shown around by Dr. Yamina Silva and had a talk with Dr. Pablo Lagos, the Scientific Director of the institute. Technical details of the AVH2 conference organisation were discussed in view of organising a similar-size conference and workshop on glacial hazards in Russia in 2008. We were also shown an on-line seismic hazard monitoring system.

Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Facultad de Ingenieria Geologica, Minera, Metalurgica y Geografica, Escuela Ingenieria Geografica (Av. Venezuela s/n Ciudad Universitaria, Lima 01- Peru). Meeting Mr. Carlos Meza in the geographic information systems division.

Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru (Av. Universitaria 1801, San Miguel Lima - Peru). Meeting Dr. Hildegardo Cordova, Executive director of the Center for Research in Applied Geography.

Instituto Geografico Nacional
(Av. Aramburu, 1198 Surquillo Lima 34 - Peru). Selection and purchase of topographic maps for the field training area in Cordillera Blanca.

Sociedad Geografica de Lima (Jr. Puno 450; Casilla 100-1176 Lima - Peru). Meeting with the Honorary President of the Society Dr. Santiago E. Antunez de Mayolo R. Acquiring materials on the glacier hazards in the Cordillera Blanca, including Huascaran glacier disasters and a glacial lake outburst flood in the town of Huaraz.

Business visits in Huaraz

INRENA (Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales, Unidad De Glaciologia y Recursos Hidricos, Avda. Confraternidad Internacional Oeste #167, Huaraz - Peru). Meeting head of the glaciological unit Ing. Marco Zapata and his workers Nelson Santillan and Jesus Gomez. Exchange of research materials on glacier disasters and outburst-prone lakes. Joint field trips to Paron and Lake Llaca, getting acquainted with the engineering protection measures installed on local glacial lakes, as developed with participation of INRENA. Agreement to continue joint work in the named fields.

HUARAZ II hospital. This hospital has been created with the help from USSR experts during the rescue work after the catastrophic earthquake of 1970, which destroyed much of the Ancash region and led to a glacier disaster at the foot of Mt. Huascaran, burying the town of Yungay and several villages. Visit to the monument in the memory of Soviet rescue workers, medics and pilots who perished in 1970 over the Atlantic en route to Peru. Meeting hospital director Dr. Guillermo Milla Meza.

Field training schedule

11 March. Arrival to Huaraz.

12 March. Arrival of field transport. Visit to the INRENA office. Mutual presentations of glacier hazard results in the Cordillera Blanca and in the Caucasus. A field visit to Lake Paron, the largest in the Cordillera Blanca (jointly with INRENA). Study of engineering measures (a tunnel and a dam) effected to draw down the lake level, in order to reduce the outburst risk and provide water for hydroelectric works. Visit to the entry point of the tunnel and of the observation hut by the lake. Discussions with the staff of the observation hut.

Visit to INRENA. Dr. M. Zapata and his team explain their current research in Cordillera Blanca to the project team

13 March. Field visit to the village of Ranrahirca (destroyed by glacial events in 1962 and 1970) and the memorial in the former place of the town of Yungay (destroyed in 1970; 18,000 victims). Inspection of debris flow deposits. Walk around the Yungay memorial, purchase of literature about the event, GPS measurements, and examination of the debris. Inspection of the path of the 1970 event, including the section where part of the mass run up the slope and then fell off onto the town of Yungay. Locating boulders which might have been a part of a pre-Columbian rock avalanche from Mt. Huascaran, that probably reached further than the 1970 event and crossed the Santa River.


Cemetery Hill and a statue of Christ all that remains of the Old Yungay town after the glacial disaster on 31 May 1970


Remains of the county bus wrecked in the 1970 disaster


A house in the New Yungay built on a pre-Columbian rock avalanche boulder


Mt. Huascaran

14 March. Field visit through Yungay to the Lakes Llanganuco and the Puertas al Cielo mountain pass. Visit to the memorial dedicated to mountaineers who perished in the area, including a Czech group killed during the Huascaran glacier disaster on 31 May 1970. It was established that the famous photographer Vilem Heckel, a member of the group, took photos of the Mt. Huascaran summit for the Llanganuco lakes area; therefore a north face of the mountain was pictured, which unfortunately does not give many clues into the pre-disaster conditions in 1970 (the main mass of ice fell of the western side).

15 March. Field visit to the glacial lake Llaca (jointly with INRENA). Inspection of the protective dam and drainage channel constructed with INRENAs help to lower the risk of lake outburst.

Protective dam on Lake Llaca

16 March. Taking advantage of the first day of sunny and clear weather, we had a field visit to the Cordillera Negra ridge opposite Mt Huascaran to repeat photographs of 1970 and assess the extensive resettlement on the 1970 debris flow deposits. Then work was continued in two groups: group 1 (Evans, Chernomorets, Tutubalina, Zaporozhchenko) continued photography of the Yungay site, then went to see the installations of the Canon del Pato hydroelectric stations and traces of the 1970 debris flow (which destroyed some of the road tunnels and the hydroelectric dam); group 2 (Petrakov, Kargapolova) went to Lakes Lllanganuco to repeat photo of the summit of Mt Huascaran made by Vilem Heckel and later developed as his camera was found in the avalanche debris (a biography of this outstanding photographer and mountaineer is available at In the evening we had another meeting with Marco Zapatas group and it was decided to prepare collaborations of agreement between his group and Russian and Canadian teams.

17 March. Work continued in two groups. Group 1 (Petrakov, Chernomorets) hiked up to a remote Lake Palcacocha which is probably the most dangerous lake of those above the town of Huaraz. The same lake produced a disastrous outburst flood in 1941 which killed 5,000 people. The team inspected protective dams on the lake and assessed its current hazard. Deposits of the 1941 event were assessed on the way. Group 2 (Evans, Tutubalina, Zaporozhchenko) visited Pastorurri Glacier an area of extremely rapid deglaciation at the altitude of 5000 m.

Lake Palcacocha and its protective dam   Front of Pastorurri Glacier. Photo by Eduard Zaporozhchenko

18 March. Field trip to headwaters of the Santa River and along Cordillera Blanca. Inspection of a fresh landslide on the road to Chavin de Huantar.

19 March. A concluding visit to INRENA and departure from Huaraz.

As noted by Marco Zapata, the Cordillera Blanca experiences higher glacier recession rates and higher level of glacial hazard that the Caucasus. This situation, in the view of the current climate forecasts, is instructive to look at as a possible picture of hazards in the Caucasus in 30-40 years time. Numerous materials, received by the teams at INRENA, include an inventory of Perus glaciers, maps and descriptions of the regions glacial lakes and photographs of protective structures. It is anticipated that lessons learned in the Cordillera Blanca will be usefully applied to glacier hazard mitigation strategies in the Caucasus.

Outcomes of the Peru mission

Topics discussed during this mission were written down as the Huaraz Memorandum, which covered research articles to write, involvement of new young scientists, preparation of an Advanced Research Workshop on Glacier Hazards, international research cooperation, schedule for preparation of the 6-month SfP project report, further funding of joint work, improvements on the project website and further collaboration within the project.



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