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Water Science and Applications

 

Keywords

  • Paleohydrology
  • Floods

Index Terms

  • 1815 Hydrology: Erosion and sedimentation
  • 1821 Hydrology: Floods
  • 1824 Hydrology: Geomorphology

Article

WATER SCIENCE AND APPLICATION, VOL. 5, PP. 175-190, 2002

Paleohydrologic bounds: Non-exceedance information for flood hazard assessment

D. R. Levish

The need for widely applicable techniques to acquire paleoflood information for the Bureau of Reclamation in the Western United States prompted the development of the concept of paleohydrologic bounds. A paleohydrologic bound is defined as a time interval during which a particular discharge has not been exceeded. Paleohydrologic bounds are limits on paleostage provided by stable geomorphic surfaces adjacent to a stream. The age of the surface establishes the duration of the bound. The discharge associated with the bound is estimated from hydraulic model predictions of the discharge required to erode or significantly modify the geomorphic surface. The implementation of paleohydrologic bounds in paleoflood studies spurred the refinement of tools used in previous paleoflood studies as well as the development and application of new tools and concepts. These innovations include improvements in the use of soil stratigraphy and radiocarbon analysis, topographic mapping, two-dimensional hydraulic modeling, and statistical analysis. At present, it appears that the best approach is to combine information about the largest paleofloods and paleohydrologic bounds to constrain potential flood frequency behavior at low probabilities. As the use of risk analysis grows for flood hazard assessment, the need for paleoflood information will increase. In the future, large information gains will result from combining paleoflood information with more conventional hydrologic methods.

Citation: Levish, D. R. (2002), Paleohydrologic bounds: Non-exceedance information for flood hazard assessment, in Ancient Floods, Modern Hazards: Principles and Applications of Paleoflood Hydrology, Water Sci. Appl., vol. 5, edited by P. K. House et al., pp. 175–190, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/WS005p0175.

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