Postwildfire debris flows are frequently triggered by runoff following high-intensity rainfall, but the physical mechanisms by which water-dominated flows transition to debris flows are poorly understood relative to debris flow initiation from shallow landslides. In this study, we combined a numerical model with high-resolution hydrologic and geomorphic data sets to test two different hypotheses for debris flow initiation during a rainfall event that produced numerous debris flows within a recently burned drainage basin. Based on simulations, large volumes of sediment eroded from the hillslopes were redeposited within the channel network throughout the storm, leading to the initiation of numerous debris flows as a result of the mass failure of sediment dams that built up within the channel. More generally, results provide a quantitative framework for assessing the potential of runoff-generated debris flows based on sediment supply and hydrologic conditions.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Debris flow initiation by runoff in a recently burned basin: Is grain-by-grain sediment bulking or en masse failure to blame?|
|Series title||Geophysical Research Letters|
|Publisher||American Geophysical Union|
|Contributing office(s)||Geologic Hazards Science Center|