Historical and Paleoflood Analyses for Probabilistic Flood-Hazard Assessments—Approaches and Review Guidelines

Techniques and Methods 4-B6
Prepared in cooperation with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
By: , and 



Paleoflood studies are an effective means of providing specific information on the recurrence and magnitude of rare and large floods. Such information can be combined with systematic flood measurements to better assess the frequency of large floods. Paleoflood data also provide valuable information about the linkages among climate, land use, flood-hazard assessments, and channel morphology. This document summarizes methods and techniques for the preparation, gathering, evaluation, and interpretation of paleoflood information, including uncertainties, especially with respect to new statistical approaches available to efficiently use such data. We summarize best practices and strategies for assessing and mitigating uncertainties and provide guidelines on appropriate technical review of paleoflood analyses based on project goals and requirements.

Suggested Citation

Harden, T.M., Ryberg, K.R., O’Connor, J.E., Friedman, J.M., and Kiang, J.E., 2021, Historical and paleoflood analyses for probabilistic flood-hazard assessments—Approaches and review guidelines: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 4, chap. B6, 91 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm4B6.

ISSN: 2328-7055 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Historical Evidence of Floods
  • Paleohydraulic Analysis
  • Geological Paleostage Indicators
  • Botanical Paleostage Indicators
  • Uncertainties Associated With Paleostage Indicators
  • Lake and Other Off-Channel Deposits
  • Hydraulic Analysis
  • Flood-Frequency Analysis
  • Outstanding Issues and Uncertainties
  • Paleoflood Analysis and Review Levels
  • References Cited
  • Appendixes 1–2
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Historical and paleoflood analyses for probabilistic flood-hazard assessments—Approaches and review guidelines
Series title Techniques and Methods
Series number 4-B6
DOI 10.3133/tm4B6
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center, Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center, North Dakota Water Science Center, Oregon Water Science Center
Description vii, 91 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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