The 1985 catastrophic drainage of a moraine-dammed lake, Khumbu Himal, Nepal: cause and consequences

Vuichard, Daniel; Zimmermann, Markus N. (1987). The 1985 catastrophic drainage of a moraine-dammed lake, Khumbu Himal, Nepal: cause and consequences. Mountain Research and Development, 7(2), pp. 91-110. International Mountain Society 10.2307/3673305

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On 4 August 1985 Dig Tsho, a moraine-dammed glacial lake in the Khumbu area of eastern Nepal, burst above Thame. For the region close to the origin of the outbreak the consequences were catastrophic. The destruction of a newly built hydroelectricp ower plant, 14 bridges, about 30 houses, and many hectares of valuable arable land, as well as a heavily damaged trail network, resulted from 5 million m3 of water plummetting down the Bhote Kosi and Dudh Kosi valleys. The breaching of the moraine was triggered by wave action following an ice avalanche of 150,000 m3 into the lake. The surge had a peak discharge of 1,600 m3/sec; 3 million m3 of debris were moved within a distance of less than 40 km. However, only 10-15 percent of the material left the region as suspended load. The potential hazard of glacial lakes persists and increases. A hazard assessment including an identificationo f source areas and subsequent monitoring of glacial lakes is proposed. It should be incorporated into any development concept for the Himalayan region.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Geomorphology

UniBE Contributor:

Zimmermann, Markus


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




International Mountain Society




Silvia Käser

Date Deposited:

04 Nov 2015 14:55

Last Modified:

06 Mar 2016 15:26

Publisher DOI:





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