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Post-wildfire debris flow and large woody debris transport modeling

August 28, 2023

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By Thad Wasklewicz and Richard Guthrie

Stantec’s Thad Wasklewicz and Rick Guthrie discuss post-wildfire debris flow and large woody debris transport modeling in MDPI's Water Journal

Stantec’s Geohazards experts Dr. Thad Wasklewicz and Dr. Rick Guthrie discuss how the increase in wildfires across much of Western United States has a significant impact on the water quantity, water quality, and sediment and large woody debris transport (LWD) within the watershed of reservoirs. There is a need to understand the volume and fate of LWD transported by post-wildfire debris flows to the Lake Oroville Reservoir, north of Sacramento, California.

They combine debris flow modeling, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, and large woody debris transport modeling to assess how much LWD is transported from medium and small watersheds to Lake Oroville. Debris flow modeling, triggered by a 50-year rainfall intensity, from 13 watersheds, transported 1073 pieces (1579.7 m3) of LWD to the mainstem river. Large woody debris transport modeling was performed for 1-, 2-, 5-, 25-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year flows. The transport ratio increased with discharge as expected. LWDis transported to the reservoir during a 2-year event with a transport ratio of 25% with no removal of LWD and 9% with removal of LWD greater than the cross-section width. The 500-year event produced transport ratios of 58% and 46% in our two sub scenarios.

  • Thad Wasklewicz

    Thad is a principal and team leader for Stantec’s geohazard and geomorphology services. He applies high-resolution topography and 2D modeling to manage environmental hazards, and he’s an accomplished technical author in geomatics.

    Contact Thad
  • Richard Guthrie

    Richard brings over 25 years of experience in geotechnical analysis and expert advice, gaining some impressive industry recognition along the way.

    Contact Richard
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