Surficial processes, channel change, and geological methods of flood-hazard assessment on fluvially dominated alluvial fans in Arizona.
AuthorField, John Jacob.
KeywordsAlluvial fans -- Arizona -- White Tank Mountains.
Alluvial fans -- Arizona -- Tortolita Mountains.
Geomorphological mapping -- Arizona -- White Tank Mountains.
Geomorphological mapping -- Arizona -- Tortolita Mountains.
Flood control channels -- Arizona.
Flood forecasting -- Arizona.
Committee ChairBaker, V. R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractA combination of geological and hydraulic techniques represents the most sensible approach to flood hazard analysis on alluvial fans. Hydraulic models efficiently yield predictions of flood depths and velocities, but the assumptions on which the models are based do not lead to accurate portrayals of natural fan processes. Geomorphological mapping, facies, mapping, and hydraulic reconstructions of past floods provide data on the location, types, and magnitude of flood hazards, respectively. Geological reconstructions of past floods should be compared with the results of hydraulic modeling before, potentially unsound, floodplain management decisions are implemented. The controversial Federal Emergency Management Agency procedure for delineating flood-hazard zones underestimated the extent, velocity, and depth of flow during recent floods on two alluvial fans by over 100, 25, and 70 percent, respectively. Flow on the alluvial fans occurs in one or more discontinuous ephemeral stream systems characterized by alternating sheetflood zones and channelized reaches. The importance of sheetflooding is greater on fans closer to the mountain front and with unstable channel banks. Channel diversions on five alluvial fans repeatedly occurred along low channel banks and bends where the greatest amount of overland flow is generated. Channel migration occurs through stream capture whereby overland flow from the main channel accelerates and directs erosion of adjacent secondary channels. The recurrence interval of major channel shifts is greater than 100 years, but minor changes occurred on all five fans during this century. Small aggrading flows are important, because they decrease bank heights and alter the location of greatest overland flow during subsequent floods. The results of this study demonstrate that (1) geological reconstructions of past floods can check the results of hydraulic models, (2) the character of flooding on alluvial fans can vary significantly in the same tectonic and climatic setting due to differences in drainage-basin characteristics, and (3) flood-hazard assessments on alluvial fans must be updated after each flood, because the location and timing of channel diversions can be affected by small floods.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Arizona
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