Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Debris flows and landscape evolution

Debris flows and landscape evolution

The Role of Debris Flows in Shaping Mountainous Terrain

Debris flows appear to be responsible for carving the steep, capillary-like lacework of channels that form much of the relief in steep terrain. Yet we know very little about the mechanics of debris incision into rock, and how the processes responsible translate into a “debris flow erosion rule” over geologic time. This project brings together monitoring of debris flows at the Chalk Cliffs, Colorado (in collaboration with the USGS Landslide Hazards Team), analysis of terrain morphometry in regions prone to debris flows (including Central and Southern Italy and the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California), and numerical modeling of granular mechanics.

REFERENCES:

McCoy, S.W., Kean, J.W., Coe, J.A., Staley, D.M., Wasklewicz, T.A., and Tucker, G.E. (2010) Evolution of a natural debris flow: in situ measurements of flow dynamics, video imagery, and terrestrial laser scanning: Geology, v. 38, p. 735-738, doi:10.1130/G30928.1.

McCoy S.W., Coe J.A., Kean J.W., Tucker G.E., Staley D.M., Wasklewicz T.A., Observations of debris flows at Chalk Cliffs, Colorado, USA: Part 1, In-situ measurements of flow dynamics, tracer particle movement and video imagery from the summer of 2009. Paper submitted to 5th International Conference on Debris-Flow Hazards Mitigation: Mechanics, Prediction and Assessment (Padua, 14-17 June 2011).

Staley, Dennis M., Wasklewicz, Thad A., Coe, Jeffrey A., Kean, Jason W., McCoy, Scott W., & Tucker, Greg E. Observations of debris flows at Chalk Cliffs, Colorado, USA: Part 2, changes in surface morphometry from terrestrial laser scanning in the summer of 2009. Paper submitted to 5th International Conference on Debris-Flow Hazards Mitigation: Mechanics, Prediction and Assessment (Padua, 14-17 June 2011).

Research Group

Participants

Greg Tucker, CU Boulder, PI
Stephen Lancaster, Oregon State University, PI
Scott McCoy, doctoral candidate, CU Boulder
Jeff Coe, US Geological Survey, Golden, CO
Jason Kean, US Geological Survey, Golden, CO
Dennis Staley, US Geological Survey, Golden, CO
Thad Wasklewicz, East Carolina University, NC

Funding Information

Funding from National Science Foundation grant EAR-0643240, 2007-2010