This year a team of engineers at Cambridge University have been developing a new test that can quickly identify and measure the shear strength of the weakest layer (or interface) within the snowpack. The test provides results similar to those given by a shear box test but takes only a minute to complete. Initial tests have been very successful at detecting buried layers of faceted crystals and poorly bonded crusts.
Next winter we are hoping to send several prototypes to the Alps for testing throughout the season in a wide variety of snow conditions. I would be very grateful if anyone could point me in the direction of a research establishment or experienced backcountry skier who might be interested in testing in France next year. Any comments or questions about the test apparatus are welcome. I will keep the forum updated of further developments