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Water Science and Applications



  • Paleohydrology
  • Floods

Index Terms

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



Historical flood and paleoflood chronology of the lower Verde River, Arizona: Stratigraphic evidence and related uncertainties

P. Kyle House

Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Reno, Nevada

Philip A. Pearthree

Arizona Geological Survey, Tucson, Arizona

Jeanne E. Klawon

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, Colorado

A detailed analysis of slackwater flood deposits in the mouth of a tributary to the lower Verde River, Arizona, reconstructs the history of the largest floods on the river over approximately the last 1400–1600 years. The record provides abundant information about the magnitude and frequency of extreme floods in the late Holocene and places the river's short historical record into a realistic long-term context. Most importantly, however, is that the stratigraphic record and recent flood history of the river provide important insights into various uncertainties that combine to preclude confident compilation of complete paleoflood records in typical bedrock-canyon slackwater settings. Numerous processes act over time to compromise the integrity of paleoflood stratigraphy. In particular, vertical accretion in most slackwater sequences ensures that the stratigraphic record is progressively self-censoring and probably biased towards larger and younger floods. This process combines with other sources of uncertainty to hinder the compilation of complete records and the discrimination and accurate dating of individual events. These inherent uncertainties need to be explicitly addressed in slackwater paleoflood studies, particularly with respect to interpretation of climatic variability and flood-frequency analysis.

Citation: House, P. K., P. A. Pearthree, and J. E. Klawon (2002), Historical flood and paleoflood chronology of the lower Verde River, Arizona: Stratigraphic evidence and related uncertainties, in Ancient Floods, Modern Hazards: Principles and Applications of Paleoflood Hydrology, Water Sci. Appl., vol. 5, edited by P. K. House et al., pp. 267–293, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/WS005p0267.


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