Constraining post-fire debris-flow volumes in the southwestern United States

Alexander Gorr, Luke McGuire, Ann Youberg

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Debris flows pose a serious threat to human life and infrastructure in downstream areas following wildfire. This underscores the necessity for having a hazard assessment framework in place that can be used to estimate the impacts of post-wildfire debris flows. Current hazard assessments in the western United States (USA) use empirical models to assess the volume of potential post-wildfire debris flows. Volume models provide information regarding the magnitude and potential downstream impacts of debris flows. In this study, we gathered post-wildfire debris-flow volume data from 54 watersheds across the states of Arizona (AZ) and New Mexico (NM), USA, and compared these data to the output of a widely used empirical post-wildfire debris-flow volume model. Results show that the volume model, which was developed using data from the Transverse Ranges of southern California (CA), tends to overestimate observed volumes from AZ and NM, sometimes by several orders of magnitude. This disparity may be explained by regional differences between southern CA and AZ and NM, including differences in sediment supply. However, we found a power- law relationship between debris-flow volume and watershed area that can be used to put first-order constraints on debris-flow volume in AZ and NM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number05004
JournalE3S Web of Conferences
StatePublished - Aug 18 2023
Event8th International Conference on Debris Flow Hazard Mitigation, DFHM 2023 - Torino, Italy
Duration: Jun 26 2023Jun 29 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Energy
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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