1995: Where the Past (Paleoflood Hydrology) Meets the Present, Understanding Maximum Flooding

by Robert D. Jarrett,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: North American Water and Environment Congress & Destructive Water


Paleoflood hydrology has become accepted in the scientific, engineering, and regulatory communities and increasingly is being used to complement engineering hydrology throughout the Rocky Mountains and in other western states. Uses include design of flood-warning systems, flood-plain management, design of hydraulic structures in flood plains, management of riparian ecosystems, and better utilization of the Nation's water resources. One of the greatest benefits of paleoflood hydrology are estimates of maximum flooding in many thousands of years. However, one long standing issue pertains to the accuracy of discharge estimates made from paleostage indicators (PSIs). The most commonly used PSI in paleoflood studies of higher-gradient streams (say gradients larger than 0.001 m/m) are flood bars, which are comprised of sands, gravels, and boulders. These bars are preserved for many tens of thousands of years until larger floods produce larger bars. Typically, the elevation of the top of the flood bar is used as the minimum elevation of the flood that deposited the bar. Hydrologic condition during 1995 allowed for an evaluation of the relation between PSIs and 1995 high-water marks (HWMs).

Subject Headings: Floods | Hydrology | Flood plains | Hydraulic design | Water resources | Systems management | Resource management | Rocky Mountains | Colorado | United States

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