Geologists commonly infer the flow conditions and the physical properties of debris flows from the sedimentologic, stratigraphic, and morphologic characteristics of their deposits. However, such inferences commonly lack corroboration by direct observation because the capricious nature of debris flows makes systematic observation and measurement of natural events both difficult and dangerous. Furthermore, in contrast to the numerous experimental studies of water flow and related fluvial deposition, few real-time observations and measurements of sediment deposition by large-scale mass flow of debris under controlled conditions have been made. Recent experiments at the U.S. Geological Survey debris-flow flume in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Oregon (Iverson and others, 1992) are shedding new insight on sediment deposition by debris flows and on the veracity of methods commonly used to reconstruct flow character from deposit characteristics.
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USGS Numbered Series
Experimental studies of deposition at a debris-flow flume