Scientists have warned that the Italian side of the famed Mont Blanc could become a disaster area as a 'temperate glacier' continues to melt and move at a speed that's precipitous for a glacier.
The Planpincieux glacier, called temperate because it is at a melting point, as opposed to 'polar glaciers' that are frozen to bedrock, moves because there is water below its bottom surface, allowing it to slide. According to the Aosta Valley regional director of natural risk management, “We’ve got a significant temperature rise and this causes a more rapid formation of the sub-glacial water flow, an important underground circulation of water.”
While it was more stable for many years, and stuck in a more stable position in the rock, it is now able to move as much as 150cm a day (about 4.75 feet) compared to the polar glacier above it that moves only 2 to 20cm a day.
The extreme danger is that the 800,000 metre cube of ice could fall on the village and roads below, although, an expert said, "there are no absolute guarantees that it will really behave that way. But, since a 15,000 square metre cube fell last October, the mountain is under constant watch, including helicopter observation.