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Open-File Report 2011–1214

Probability and Volume of Potential Postwildfire Debris Flows in the 2011 Wallow Burn Area, Eastern Arizona

By Barbara C. Ruddy

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (3.12 MB)Abstract

This report presents a preliminary emergency assessment of the debris-flow hazards from drainage basins burned in 2011 by the Wallow wildfire in eastern Arizona. Empirical models derived from statistical evaluation of data collected from recently burned drainage basins throughout the intermountain western United States were used to estimate the probability of debris-flow occurrence and debris-flow volumes for selected drainage basins. Input for the models include measures of burn severity, topographic characteristics, soil properties, and rainfall total and intensity for a (1) 10-year-recurrence, 1-hour-duration rainfall and (2) 25-year-recurrence, 1-hour-duration rainfall.

Estimated debris-flow probabilities in the drainage basins of interest ranged from less than 1 percent in response to both the 10-year-recurrence, 1-hour-duration rainfall and the 25-year-recurrence, 1-hour-duration rainfall to a high of 41 percent in response to the 25-year-recurrence, 1-hour-duration rainfall. The low probabilities in all modeled drainage basins are likely due to extensive low-gradient hillslopes, burned at low severities, and large drainage-basin areas (greater than 25 square kilometers). Estimated debris-flow volumes ranged from a low of 24 cubic meters to a high of greater than 100,000 cubic meters, indicating a considerable hazard should debris flows occur.

First posted August 24, 2011

For additional information contact:
Center Director, USGS Colorado Water Science Center
Box 25046, Mail Stop 415
Denver, CO 80225

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Suggested citation:

Ruddy, B.C., 2011, Probability and volume of potential postwildfire debris flows in the 2011 Wallow burn area, eastern Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1214, 11 p.




Estimated Debris-Flow Probabilities and Volumes

Use and Limitations of the Assessment

References Cited

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