Prehistoric floods on the Tennessee River—Assessing the use of stratigraphic records of past floods for improved flood-frequency analysis

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5052
Prepared in cooperation with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
By:  and 

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Abstract

Stratigraphic analysis, coupled with geochronologic techniques, indicates that a rich history of large Tennessee River floods is preserved in the Tennessee River Gorge area. Deposits of flood sediment from the 1867 peak discharge of record (460,000 cubic feet per second at Chattanooga, Tennessee) are preserved at many locations throughout the study area at sites with flood-sediment accumulation. Small exposures at two boulder overhangs reveal evidence of three to four other floods similar in size, or larger, than the 1867 flood in the last 3,000 years—one possibly as much or more than 50 percent larger. Records of floods also are preserved in stratigraphic sections at the mouth of the gorge at Williams Island and near Eaves Ferry, about 70 river miles upstream of the gorge. These stratigraphic records may extend as far back as about 9,000 years ago, giving a long history of Tennessee River floods. Although more evidence is needed to confirm these findings, a more in-depth comprehensive paleoflood study is feasible for the Tennessee River.

Suggested Citation

Harden, T.M., and O’Connor, J.E., 2017, Prehistoric floods on the Tennessee River—Assessing the use of stratigraphic records of past floods for improved flood-frequency analysis: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5052, 15 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175052.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Measured and Historical Streamflow
  • Stratigraphic Field Inspections and Results
  • A Tennessee River Comprehensive Flood Study—Activities and Requirements
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Prehistoric floods on the Tennessee River—Assessing the use of stratigraphic records of past floods for improved flood-frequency analysis
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2017-5052
DOI 10.3133/sir20175052
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Oregon Water Science Center
Description iv, 15 p.
Country United States
State Tennessee
Other Geospatial Tennessee River
Online Only (Y/N) Y