Glacier-Generated Floods and Debris Flows

by Andrew G. Fountain,
Joseph S. Walder,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


Sudden release of glacially impounded water causes catastrophic floods, known as outburst floods, and ocasionally spawn debris flows that pose significant hazards in mountainous areas. Commonly, the peak flow of an outburst flood may substantially exceed local conventional benchmarks, such as the 100-year flood peak. This paper will summarize current knowledge of the physical processes involved in outburst floods, as well as methods of predicting peak discharge. Examples will be drawn from our experience in the western United States.

Subject Headings: Floods | Debris | Solids flow | Water storage | Disasters and hazards | Natural disasters | Mountains | Peak flow | United States

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