Paleoflood investigations to improve peak-streamflow regional-regression equations for natural streamflow in eastern Colorado, 2015

Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5099
Prepared in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation
By: , and 



The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation, developed regional-regression equations for estimating the 50-, 20-, 10-, 4-, 2-, 1-, 0.5-, 0.2-percent annual exceedance-probability discharge (AEPD) for natural streamflow in eastern Colorado. A total of 188 streamgages, consisting of 6,536 years of record and a mean of approximately 35 years of record per streamgage, were used to develop the peak-streamflow regional-regression equations. The estimated AEPDs for each streamgage were computed using the USGS software program PeakFQ. The AEPDs were determined using systematic data through water year 2013. Based on previous studies conducted in Colorado and neighboring States and on the availability of data, 72 characteristics (57 basin and 15 climatic characteristics) were evaluated as candidate explanatory variables in the regression analysis. Paleoflood and non-exceedance bound ages were established based on reconnaissance-level methods. Multiple lines of evidence were used at each streamgage to arrive at a conclusion (age estimate) to add a higher degree of certainty to reconnaissance-level estimates. Paleoflood or nonexceedance bound evidence was documented at 41 streamgages, and 3 streamgages had previously collected paleoflood data.To determine the peak discharge of a paleoflood or non-exceedanc bound, two different hydraulic models were used.

The mean standard error of prediction (SEP) for all 8 AEPDs was reduced approximately 25 percent compared to the previous flood-frequency study. For paleoflood data to be effective in reducing the SEP in eastern Colorado, a larger ratio than 44 of 188 (23 percent) streamgages would need paleoflood data and that paleoflood data would need to increase the record length by more than 25 years for the 1-percent AEPD. The greatest reduction in SEP for the peak-streamflow regional-regression equations was observed when additional new basin characteristics were included in the peak-streamflow regional-regression equations and when eastern Colorado was divided into two separate hydrologic regions. To make further reductions in the uncertainties of the peak-streamflow regional-regression equations in the Foothills and Plains hydrologic regions, additional streamgages or crest-stage gages are needed to collect peak-streamflow data on natural streams in eastern Colorado.

Generalized-Least Squares regression was used to compute the final peak-streamflow regional-regression equations for peak-streamflow. Dividing eastern Colorado into two new individual regions at –104° longitude resulted in peak-streamflow regional-regression equations with the smallest SEP. The new hydrologic region located between –104° longitude and the Kansas-Nebraska State line will be designated the Plains hydrologic region and the hydrologic region comprising the rest of eastern Colorado located west of the –104° longitude and east of the Rocky Mountains and below 7,500 feet in the South Platte River Basin and below 9,000 feet in the Arkansas River Basin will be designated the Foothills hydrologic region.

Suggested Citation

Kohn, M.S., Stevens, M.R., Harden, T.M., Godaire, J.E., Klinger, R.E., and Mommandi, Amanullah, 2016, Paleoflood investigations to improve peak-streamflow regional-regression equations for natural streamflow in eastern Colorado, 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5099, 58 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods for Data Development for Streamgages
  • Regional-Regression Analyses
  • StreamStats
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendixes
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Paleoflood investigations to improve peak-streamflow regional-regression equations for natural streamflow in eastern Colorado, 2015
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2016-5099
DOI 10.3133/sir20165099
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Colorado Water Science Center, Oregon Water Science Center
Description Report: ix, 57 p.; 3 Appendixes
Country United States
State Colorado
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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