Abstract

Estimation of the volumes of potential future debris flows is a key factor in hazard assessment and mitigation. Worldwide, however, there are few catchments for which detailed volume-frequency information is available. We (1) reconstructed volume-frequency curves for 10 debris-flow catchments in Saline Valley, California (USA), from a large number of well-preserved, unmodified surficial flow deposits, and (2) assessed the correlations between lobe-volume quantiles and a set of morphometric catchment characteristics. We found statistically significant correlations between lobe-volume quantiles, including median and maximum, and catchment relief, length (planimetric distance from the fan apex to the most distant point along the watershed boundary), perimeter, and Melton ratio (relief divided by the square root of catchment area). These findings show that it may be possible to roughly estimate debris-flow lobe-volume quantiles from basic catchment characteristics that can be obtained from globally available elevation data. This may assist in design-volume estimation for debris-flow catchments where past flow volumes are otherwise unknown.

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