Models that employ a fixed rheology cannot yield accurate interpretations or predictions of debris-flow motion, because the evolving behavior of debris flows is too complex to be represented by any rheological equation that uniquely relates stress and strain rate. Field observations and experimental data indicate that debris behavior can vary from nearly rigid to highly fluid as a consequence of temporal and spatial variations in pore-fluid pressure and mixture agitation. Moreover, behavior can vary if debris composition changes as a result of grain-size segregation and gain or loss of solid and fluid constituents in transit. An alternative to fixed-rheology models is provided by a Coulomb mixture theory model, which can represent variable interactions of solid and fluid constituents in heterogeneous debris-flow surges with high-friction, coarse-grained heads and low-friction, liquefied tails. ?? 2003 Millpress.