Debris flows in the southern and eastern Sierra Nevada region, California
David L. Wagner, Jerome V. De Graff, Jeremy T. Lancaster, 2013. "Debris flows in the southern and eastern Sierra Nevada region, California", Geologic Excursions from Fresno, California, and the Central Valley, Keith Putirka
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Research in recently burned mountainous watersheds in California, Colorado, and Utah shows that most postfire debris flows are initiated by runoff and erosion and grow in size through erosion and scour in channels. Most commonly, postfire debris flows occur within two years after a fire. This paper describes a field trip to three such occurrences in the southeastern Sierra Nevada as well as debris flows in the arid Inyo Mountains. On 12 July 2008, tropical moisture moved across the American Southwest and stalled against the eastern Sierra. Local convective cells simultaneously produced brief periods of intense rainfall on steep-sloped, burned watersheds near the towns of Lake Isabella and Independence, about 155 km to the north. Both communities sustained significant damage and infrastructure disruption. On 10 August 2010, intense rain fell on the Haiwee Creek drainage that was burned in 2008, producing a debris flow that swept a semi tractor trailer off of Highway 395, caused overnight traffic delays, and damaged infrastructure.
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In this volume we present seven field trip guides that span the breadth of the geology of central California. The trips are associated with the 2013 Cordilleran Section meeting of the Geological Society of America, convened in Fresno, California. These trips provide guides to some of the most remarkable of geologic localities, which are not only iconic, but form type examples of key geologic phenomena and include Yosemite National Park, the San Andreas fault, the Franciscan complex, and the Sierra Nevada Foothills near Fresno, California. The topics covered by these field trips include the nature of continental transform faults, the initiation of subduction, the origin of the Sierra Nevada batholith, the initiation of the Sierra Nevada arc, Pleistocene vertebrate fossils of the Central Valley, and debris flows triggered from burned watersheds.