Paleoflood Investigations and Physiographic Characteristics Associated with Susceptibility to Flooding in the Mountainous Colorado Front Range

Authors: Natalie Trivino*, University of Denver, Michael Daniels, University of Denver, Robert Jarrett, USGS
Topics: Geomorphology, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Paleoenvironmental Change
Keywords: Paleoflood Hydrology, Basin Morphometry Analysis, Geographic Information Systems, Flooding, Colorado Front Range, South Platte River
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon B2, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Extreme precipitation and subsequent flooding events are the most prevalent and costly natural hazard globally (Baker, Webb, House, 2002). Therefore, it is necessary to better understand the physiographic characteristics associated with flooding to prepare for flooding hazards, since these factors are the dominant controls for flood runoff (Costa, 1987). The Colorado Front Range is particularly prone to flooding hazards due to the steep, complex terrain of the mountains where waters quickly spill out onto the most populated region of Colorado along the Front Range (McKee and Doesken, 1997). This region has experienced numerous catastrophic flooding events, such as the 2013 Front Range Floods, the Fort Collins Flood of 1997, and the Big Thompson Canyon Flood of 1976 to name a few (NWS, n.d.).
The objective of this study is to analyze the physiographic characteristics of several drainage basins throughout the Colorado Front Range South Platte River tributaries and determine how these characteristics relate to extreme flooding susceptibility. This will be done through two parts: 1) data collection on the prior maximum observable flood through paleoflood analysis and historic records; and 2) a morphometric terrain analysis with ArcGIS. All basins without previous data collection on the prior maximum observable flood from paleoflood analysis will be studied through a paleoflood and historic analysis. The morphometric analysis will consider physiographic characteristics such as basin size, relief, orientation, etc. and compare these characteristics to flood magnitude found in part I for each basin to determine characteristics that most relate to extreme flood susceptibility.

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