Crumbling Eiger rock prompts new concern

There is growing concern that new rockfalls from the Eiger mountain could lead to flooding from a glacier lake in the Bernese Oberland.

This content was published on July 7, 2008 - 21:04

Up to 900,000 cubic metres of water could be discharged in gorges in the space of several hours according to geologist Hans Rudolf Keusen.

He also told public radio there were rockfalls in recent days from the northwest side of the mountain.

Keusen said measuring instruments in place should indicate rising levels. The level of the lake is under permanent surveillance. At the end of May 800,000 cubic metres of water from the lake spilled over, creating floods in the resort of Grindelwald.

Two years ago, a fifth of the Eiger's unstable rock fell into the valley after large fissures appeared in a giant slab of stone on the mountain's eastern flank.

Geologists believe the mountainside was weakened by the retreat of the Lower Grindelwald Glacier over the past few decades under global warming. Experts say the glacier acted as a supporting wall, and melt water from the remaining ice has been able to seep between the rocks, creating large cracks.

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