The Norman, Oklahoma, municipal landfill closed in 1985 after 63 years of operation, because it was identified as a point source of hazardous leachate composed of organic and inorganic compounds. The landfill is located on the floodplain of the Canadian River, a sand-bed river characterized by erodible channel boundaries and by large variation in mean monthly discharges. In 1986, floodwaters eroded riprap protection at the southern end of the landfill and penetrated the landfill's clay cap, thereby exposing the landfill contents. The impact of this moderate-magnitude flood event (Q12) was the catalyst to investigate erosion hazards at the Norman landfill. This geomorphic investigation analyzed floodplain geomorphology and historical channel changes, flood-frequency distributions, an erosion threshold, the geomorphic effectiveness of discharge events, and other factors that influence erosion hazards at the landfill site. The erosion hazard at the Norman landfill is a function of the location of the landfill with respect to the channel thalweg, erosional resistance of the channel margins, magnitude and duration of discrete discharge events, channel form and hydraulic geometry, and cumulative effects related to a series of discharge events. Based on current climatic conditions and historical channel changes, a minimum erosion threshold is set at bankfull discharge (Q = 572 m3/s). The annual probability of exceeding this threshold is 0.53. In addition, this analysis indicates that peak stream power is less informative than total energy expenditures when estimating the erosion potential or geomorphic effectiveness of discrete discharge events. On the Canadian River, long-duration, moderate-magnitude floods can have larger total energy expenditures than shorter-duration, high-magnitude floods and therefore represent the most serious erosion hazard to floodplain structures.
Additional publication details
Geomorphic and hydrologic assessment of erosion hazards at the Norman municipal landfill, Canadian River floodplain, Central Oklahoma