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U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5241

The Continuous Slope-Area Method for Computing Event Hydrographs

By Christopher F. Smith, Jeffrey T. Cordova, and Stephen M. Wiele


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The continuous slope-area (CSA) method expands the slope-area method of computing peak discharge to a complete flow event. Continuously recording pressure transducers installed at three or more cross sections provide water-surface slopes and stage during an event that can be used with cross-section surveys and estimates of channel roughness to compute a continuous discharge hydrograph. The CSA method has been made feasible by the availability of low-cost recording pressure transducers that provide a continuous record of stage. The CSA method was implemented on the Babocomari River in Arizona in 2002 to monitor streamflow in the channel reach by installing eight pressure transducers in four cross sections within the reach. Continuous discharge hydrographs were constructed from five streamflow events during 2002–2006. Results from this study indicate that the CSA method can be used to obtain continuous hydrographs and rating curves can be generated from streamflow events.

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Tucson, AZ 85719

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Suggested citation:

Smith, C.F., Cordova, J.T., and Wiele, S.M., 2010, The continuous slope-area method for computing event hydrographs: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5241, 37 p.




Purpose and Scope

Discharge Measurements Using the Slope-Area Method

The Continuous Slope-Area Method

Study Site on the Babocomari River

Application of the Continuous Slope-Area Method on the Babocomari River


References Cited

2 appendixes

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