Flood hazards along the Toutle and Cowlitz rivers, Washington, from a hypothetical failure of Castle Lake blockage

Water-Resources Investigations Report 87-4055
By:  and 



A recent evaluation of groundwater and material in the blockage impounding Castle Lake shows that the blockage is potentially unstable against failure from piping due to heave and internal erosion when groundwater levels are seasonally high. There is also a remote possibility that a 6.8 or greater magnitude earthquake could occur in the Castle Lake area when groundwater levels are critically high. If this situation occurs, the debris blockage that confines Castle Lake could breach from successive slope failure with liquefaction of a portion of the blockage. A dam-break computer model was used to simulate discharge through a hypothetical breach in the Castle Lake blockage that could be caused by failure by heave, internal erosion, or liquefaction. Approximately 18,500 acre-ft of stored water would be released from an assumed breach that fully developed to a 1,000-ft width over a 15-minute time period. The resulting flood, incorporating 3.4 x 10 to the 6th power cu yd of the debris blockage, would reach a peak magnitude of 1,500,000 cu ft/s (cubic feet per second). The flood is also assumed to incorporate an additional 137x10 to the 6th power cu yd of saturated debris material from downstream deposits. Flow is considered to be hyperconcentrated with sediment throughout the course of the flood. The hypothetical hyperconcentrated flow is routed downstream, superimposed on normal winter flood flows by use of a one-dimensional unsteady-state numerical streamflow simulation model. From a starting magnitude of 1,500,000 cu ft/s, the peak increases to 2,100,000 cu ft/s at N-1 Dam (12 mi downstream) and attenuates to 1,200,000 cu ft/s at Kid Valley (25 mi downstream) , to 100,000 cu ft/s at Longview and the confluence of the Columbia River (65 mi downstream). From time of breach, the flood peak would take 2.2 hr to reach Toutle, 3.8 hr to reach Castle Rock, and 8.5 hr to reach Longview. Communities of Toutle , Castle Rock, Kelso, and Longview would experience extreme to moderate flooding for this scenario. (Author 's abstract)
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Flood hazards along the Toutle and Cowlitz rivers, Washington, from a hypothetical failure of Castle Lake blockage
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 87-4055
DOI 10.3133/wri874055
Edition -
Year Published 1987
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey,
Contributing office(s) Oregon Water Science Center
Description vii, 29 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
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