Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Engineers drain Mont Blanc lake

Engineers are draining an immense lake that has built up under a glacier on Mont Blanc hoping to prevent a repeat of a flood that killed 175 people more than 100 years ago.

Specialists are drilling into the glacier as part of preparations to slowly pump out the 2,275,000 cubic feet of liquid believed trapped beneaththe Tete Rousse glacier.

The water is equivalent to about 26 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Mayor Jean-Marc Peillex from the French town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, whose 3,000 inhabitants would be in the direct line of a flood path,said: “The town didn’t want to wait for a catastrophe – we are taking action to prevent one.”

The glacier is 10,560ft up Mont Blanc, and is on the most popular paths for climbers scaling Western Europe’s highest peak.

Scientists warned local authorities about the trapped water in March.

Since then, officials have shut part of a tram route used by Mont Blanc climbers and installed an alarm system in case of flooding.If it goes off, residents have between 10 to 30 minutes to evacuate.

Despite the precautions, officials and scientists say the glacier is unpredictable.

In 1892, flood waters burst from the buried lake, killing 175 people.

The amount of water currently believed trapped is comparable to what caused the 19th century flood.

When pumping starts, it will relieve pressure inside the glacier, the mayor said.

“Once they take out the first few dozen cubic meters, that doesn’t mean there will be zero risk, but there won’t be at all the same level ofstress that there is today,” he said.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs