Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor

Thomas Oommen

Co-Advisor

Benjamin Van Wyk de Vries

DOI

10.37099/mtu.dc.etds/764

Abstract

The Mount Meager Volcanic Complex (MMVC) in south-western British Columbia is a potentially active, hydrothermally altered massif comprising a series of steep, glaciated peaks. Climatic conditions and glacial retreat has led to the further weathering, exposure and de-buttressing of steep slopes composed of weak, unconsolidated material. This has resulted in an increased frequency of landslide events over the past few decades, many of which have dammed the rivers bordering the Complex. The breach of these debris dams presents a risk of flooding to the downstream communities. Preliminary mapping showed there are numerous sites around the Complex where future failure could occur. Some of these areas are currently undergoing progressive slope movement and display features to support this such as anti-scarps and tension cracks. The effect of water infiltration on stability was modelled using the Rocscience program Slide 6.0. The main site of focus was Mount Meager in the south- east of the Complex where the most recent landslide took place. Two profiles through Mount Meager were analysed along with one other location in the northern section of the MMVC, where instability had been detected. The lowest Factor of Safety (FOS) for each profile was displayed and an estimate of the volume which could be generated was deduced. A hazard map showing the inundation zones for various volumes of debris flows was created from simulations using LAHARZ. Results showed the massif is unstable, even before infiltration. Varying the amount of infiltration appears to have no significant impact on the FOS annually implying that small changes of any kind could also trigger failure. Further modelling could be done to assess the impact of infiltration over shorter time scales. The Slide models show the volume of material that could be delivered to the Lillooet River Valley to be of the order of 109 m3 which, based on the LAHARZ simulations, would completely inundate the valley and communities downstream. A major hazard of this is that the removal of such a large amount of material has the potential to trigger an explosive eruption of the geothermal system and renew volcanic activity. Although events of this size are infrequent, there is a significant risk to the communities downstream of the complex.

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