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The avalanche barriers built by TenCate Geosynthetics are suitable for use in high mountain regions and are manufactured with resource protection in mind. Since 2018, two embankments have prevented the Austrian skiing region of Axamer Lizum from flood waves caused by avalanches.

In Austria alone, there are about 8,000 avalanche corridors with innumerable avalanches descending every year. In the course of climate change, the potential for these natural phenomena is expected to increase.

The risk of avalanches descending into inhabited spaces is pervasive in alpine regions. Avalanches can occur starting from an incline of 15% destroying residential areas as well as the surrounding infrastructure in their wake. 

Common countermeasures are barriers preventing access to danger zones, well-directed planting in danger zones, costly snow bridges in the mountains or local protective structures, such as snowslide roofing over endangered roads. 

Effective avalanche protection: High benefits, great flexibility 

The product TenCate Miragrid® GX Geogrid, which is integrated in the Polyslope S system, from TenCate Geosynthetics offers an effective and individual solution that is also applicable in mountain areas which are difficult to access so that the avalanches do not get into the valleys. In the course of this, geosynthetically reinforced, over-steep earth dams are constructed. The integrated geogrids reinforce the earth and form effective protection against avalanches due to their high tenacity. 

„System Polyslope S with an integrated geogrid reinforcement has outstanding properties in terms of shaping the over-steep earth barriers as well as the special feature of distributing local stress throughout the cross section. This means that a high functionality can be guaranteed for decades for the protection of people.” 

Jürgen Gruber, Marketing & Sales Director EMEA

The soil which exists on the mountain can be used directly for protective barriers of a height largely exceeding 20 meters and with individual lengths. As a consequence, this kind of avalanche protection is resource-friendly, can be applied almost everywhere and causes less CO2 emissions than common constructions which often include the need for a helicopter to deliver supplies. 

The visible outer layer of the barriers can be designed in various ways so that it blends in with the natural surroundings. The service life of the constructions can be up to 120 years. 

Case Study: Avalanche protection in the Axamer Lizum region 

In 2018, two avalanche barriers were constructed in the high-Alpine skiing region of Axamer Lizum in the Tyrol (Austria) to secure a reservoir pond in the middle of a rock massif. 

An avalanche descending into the pond could cause a tsunami-like flood wave and endanger skiers. In order to prevent such a scenario, a dam of 170 meters in length and 16 meters in height was erected on the mountainside on the edge of the pond. A second avalanche barrier, offset to the side, serves to redirect and phase out the snow masses. After the impact of an avalanche, the snow is removed using specifically created access routes so that the barrier can be effective again within a short period of time. 

The project commenced at the end of August 2018 and was already completed in early November. 

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