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U.S. Geological Survey
Geologic Investigations Series Map I-2772
Version 1.0

Debris-Flow and Flooding Deposits in Coastal Venezuela Associated with the Storm of December 1416, 1999

By Gerald F. Wieczorek, Matthew C. Larsen, L. Scott Eaton, Benjamin A. Morgan, and J. Luke Blair

Abstract

Heavy rainfall from the storm of December 1416, 1999, triggered thousands of shallow landslides on steep slopes of the Sierra de Avila north of Caracas, Venezuela, and caused flooding and massive debris flows in the channels of major drainages that severely damaged coastal communities along the Caribbean Sea. Within this region we characterized geologic conditions where landslides initiated on hillsides and examined the texture of debris-flow deposits in the channels of nine drainages. In one of the most severely damaged areas on a highly developed alluvial fan at Caraballeda, we measured debris-flow deposits that ranged up to 5 meters (m) in thickness, inundating structures and roads over a large portion of the fan. Boulders up to 5 m long were carried along by the flows, impacted structures causing serious damage, and were deposited on the fan. Using field measurements and comparing pre-event and post-event topography from aerial photographs, we determined the volume of debris-flow and flood deposition on the fan to be about 2 million cubic meters. The total volume of material transported and deposited by landslides throughout the Vargas region ranks this as one of the most severe historical erosional events worldwide.

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See also Open-File Report 01-144.

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For questions about the scientific content of this report, contact Gerald F. Wieczorek.

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