Sunday, July 28, 2013

Debris Catalanche

***Warning for extremes of adorable. People with heart conditions, sensitivity to sweets, or a tendency to swoon in the presence of kittens should consult their physician before attempting to read this blog post. Please squee responsibly.***

Apparently stable slopes often fail unexpectedly, leading to general consternation and many geologists standing around saying, "Didn't I tell you that would happen? I'm sure I mentioned it. If you're not going to pay attention, at least grab me a beer."

We had an incident at B's house that illustrated the tendency of unstable slopes to fail without warning. Generally, when one is cradling a kitten, the kitten stays somewhat put as long as you're practicing correct kitten cuddling technique.

Luna asleep in a stable position.
But, when kittens are tired, they often achieve the consistency of a damp paper bag, and become about as grippable as gelatin. This is when gravity begins its cruel work, and a debris catalanche begins.

Once Luna began to slide, there was no stopping the process.
They can be rapid or slow, but in the end, unless there is a ledge or extra pair of hands to stop their decent, the debris catalanches will continue until they reach their full extent.

Luna at fullest extent of slide.

You can see the zone of deposition beginning with her ear, there. This handy diagram from California's Department of Conservation will help you make sense of the chaos.

Diagram of a debris avalanche by Janet K. Smith.
And here's a fine example at the South Bluff of Discovery Park:

Debris Avalanche at South Bluff, Discovery Park. Not quite as cute as a debris catalanche, but makes geologists who don't have to deliver bad news to homeowners squee.
Thanks for once again helping us demonstrate geologic processes, Luna!


  1. Seeking the kitteh angle of repose?

  2. If kitten cascades into water, may cause mewnami.