Glacial and Geological Hazards

With changing climate, glaciers around the world are responding generally by shrinking. As they do so, more melt water is being stored in glacial lake systems behind moraine dams at high altitude, especially in the Himalayas and the Andes. At the same time, to fuel economic growth with the high demands for electricity, hydropower generation is becoming increasingly important.

In the recent past, damage caused by Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), Landslide Dam Outburst Floods (LDOFs), and debris flows have resulted in many hundreds of millions of dollars of damage and lost revenue from hydropower schemes, insurance premiums have increased, and remote rural communities have been greatly affected. In the worst cases, many people have been killed by such events.

Despite the occurrence of GLOFs and LDOFs, related debris flows, thawing permafrost, and increasing numbers of rock and ice avalanches, there is little expertise available worldwide through which to manage the effect of these processes and their impacts on society. Many responsible agencies in countries affected struggle to find ways of prioritising their resources in the study and management of these high mountain systems.

Prof. John Reynolds, Managing Director of Reynolds International Ltd, is recognised independently as the world leader in glacial hazard assessment and mitigation, with experience over the last 43 years from South America (Peru and Chile), Scandinavia, Himalayas (Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet/China), Hindu Kush Karakoram (Pakistan), Tajikistan, and Tien Shan Mountains (Kyrgyzstan). He has been responsible for successful mitigation works in Peru and pioneered engineering remediation of a major glacial lake in Nepal, a world first. Much of his work has been published in international, peer-reviewed journals.


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Development of glacial hazard and risk minimisation protocols in rural environments

The original work to develop ‘Guidelines for the management of glacial hazards and risks’ was undertaken by Reynolds Geo-Sciences...

Glacial Hazard Assessment Services

If you are managing a major project in a mountain environment in which there are many glaciers and glacial lakes, do not be fooled into thinking that, if they are tens of kilometres away, your project will be immune to their effects...

Glacial hazards projects

RIL have recently undertaken a number of glacial hazards projects. Several projects on which RIL staff have worked are presented as case studies. Recent activities in glacial hazards for the RIL team include...

Integrated Geohazard Assessments

Over the last five years, RIL staff have pioneered the development of Integrated Geohazard Assessments through which a wide range of physical processes and their susceptibility to the effects of climate change can be assessed in relation to downstream infrastructure...



"CEGS have known of Reynolds International Ltd, previously Reynolds Geo-Sciences Ltd, since the mid-1990s and have utilised their services over the years for specific surveying in the former underground coal and iron ore fields of West Cumbria. As a lead consultant, we have used Reynolds International to successfully locate and define both the underground workings and the mine entries that pose a hazard to the built environment, especially shafts in the iron ore workings. Additionally, we have also enrolled on the CPD training courses that are organised by Professor John Reynolds and these provide an invaluable update to our professional skills. We will continue to use Reynolds International as our preferred specialist Geophysical consultancy because of the consistent high professional standards that are applied to every project."

Dennis R. E. Dickins, CEGS, Cumbria

"The British Embassy, Bucharest, has been working with Professor John Reynolds, of Reynolds International Ltd, since 2008 in order to ensure that the Embassy’s earthquake and emergency planning is up to date; and that all staff, dependents and the British community, for which the Embassy has a responsibility, are briefed on the causes, the preparations and the relevant actions in the event of an earthquake. Professors Reynolds’s knowledge, advice and guidance has been invaluable in ensuring that the embassy’s plan is as up to date and in an as workable format as possible. His knowledge is second to none and his guidance is clear concise and in an understandable format."

B A Davidson – HM Consul, Head of Corporate Services, Bucharest, Romania

"The earthquake preparedness training course provided by Professor John M. Reynolds for BAT Romania’ employees during 3 days in February this year was a well designed and tailored course given the high seismic hazard area where Romania is located. The main aim of the course was to provide our employees with necessary information to help them to reduce their own vulnerability at work, in their out-of-work activities and in their family lives. I was very pleased with the results of the training and, most importantly, I have received very positive feedback from participants. I recommend this course for other commercial organizations in Romania or abroad."

Eugen Stan, Business Security Manager