THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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AVALANCHE (adopted from a French dialectic form, avalance, descent), a mass of snow and ice mingled with earth and stones, which rushes down a mountain side, carrying everything before it, and producing a strong wind which uproots trees on each side of its course. Where the supply of snow exceeds the loss by evaporation the surplus descends the mountain sides, slowly in the form of glaciers, or suddenly in ice-falls or in avalanches. A mass of snow may accumulate upon a steep slope and become compacted into ice by pressure, or remain loosely aggregated. When the foundation gives way, owing to the loosening effect of spring rains or from any other cause, the whole mass slides downward. A very small cause will sometimes set a mass of overloaded snow in motion. Thunder or even a loud shout is said to produce this effect when the mass is just poised, and Swiss guides often enjoin absolute silence when crossing dangerous spots.
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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