ABSTRACT

In mountain basins, long-term instrumental monitoring coupled with high-resolution topographic surveys can provide important information on sediment yield. The Gadria catchment, located in the eastern Italian Alps, typically features several low-magnitude flood episodes and a few debris-flow events per year, from late spring to late summer. Beginning in 2011, sensors devoted to debris-flow detection (geophones, video cameras, flow stage sensors) were installed along the main channel, upstream of a retention basin. In case of debris flows, high-resolution topographical surveys of the retention basin are carried out multiple times per year. Rainfall is measured in the lower part of the catchment and at the headwaters, while passive integrated transponder tracing of bedload was performed in the main channel during spring and summer 2014. In this work, we present the reconstruction of the sediment dynamics at the catchment scale from 2011 to 2017. Results show that (i) coarse sediment yield is dominated by the few debris flows occurring per year; (ii) debris-flow volume estimations may be significantly different—up to 30 percent lower—when performed through a digital elevation model of difference analysis, compared to the time-integration of the debris-flow discharge estimates; (iii) using this latter method, the volumes are affected by significant uncertainties, particularly for small values of flow depth; and (iv) rainfall analysis permits us to characterize debris-flow initiation but also highlights difficulties in discriminating triggering from non-triggering rainstorms if based on rainfall duration and intensity only.

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