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A numerical and analytical study of the relaxation to equilibrium of both the Fermi-Pasta-Ulam (FPU) alpha-model and the integrable Toda model, when the fundamental mode is initially excited, is reported. We show that the dynamics of both systems is almost identical on the short term, when the energies of the initially unexcited modes grow in geometric progression with time, through a secular avalanche process. At the end of this first stage of the dynamics the time-averaged modal energydoi:10.1063/1.3658620 pmid:22225364 fatcat:da2c53igefh2rdjju6xcbdv5yq