Settlement refers to the process that consolidates the snowpack and diminishes its depth over time. It occurs as a result of snow metamorphism combined with gravity’s compression of grains in the snowpack.

Settlement is synonymous with strengthening of snow, but it can result in both stable and unstable snowpack structure. A snowpack described as ‘settled’ suggests snow grains are well bonded throughout the snowpack. Conversely, a layer of new snow that has ‘settled’ into a slab over a weak layer suggests an unstable snowpack structure.