Term: Lahar Class:  
 vernacular   (0%)
Created 6 June 2017
Last modified 6 June 2017
Contributed by GCW Glossary


Definition: A lahar is a mudflow or debris flow originating on a volcano. Lahars (also called debris flows or mudflows) are mixtures of water, rock, sand, and mud that rush down valleys leading away from a volcano. They can travel over 50 miles downstream, commonly reaching speeds between 20 and 40 miles per hour. Sometimes they contain so much rock debris (60-90% by weight) that they look like fast-moving rivers of wet concrete. Close to the volcano they have the strength to rip huge boulders, trees, and houses from the ground and carry them downvalley. Further downstream they simply entomb everything in mud. Historically, lahars have been one of the most deadly volcanic hazards. Lahars can form in a variety of ways, either during an eruption or when a volcano is quiet. Some examples include the following: (1) rapid release of water from the breakout of a summit crater lake; (2) generation of water by melting snow and ice, especially when a pyroclastic flow erodes a glacier; (3) flooding following intense rainfall; and (4) transformation of a volcanic landslide into a lahar as it travels downstream.  USGSGlaciers(ambiguous)