Abstract: Debris flows can be one of the most hazardous consequences of rain on recently-burned hillslopes. The deaths of sixteen people during the Christmas Day 2003 storm that impacted recently-burned hillslopes in southern California highlight the most drastic consequences of post-wildfire debris flows. The enhanced occurrence of catastrophic wildfires in the western United States, and the encroachment of development into fire-prone ecosystems, has resulted in the need for tools and methods to identify and quantify the potential hazards posed by debris flows from burned watersheds. In this talk I will describe an approach developed to answer some of the questions fundamental to post-fire debris-flow hazard assessments- what is the process? where might debris flows occur? how big will the event be? and how often will debris flows be produced? Evaluation of the response of basins burned by the fall of October of 2003 fires in southern California to the Christmas Day storm provides valuable information on ways to improve the approach.
Biography: Sue Cannon has Masters degrees in geology and civil engineering from the University of Colorado, and a PhD from the University of Colorado. She has been a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey Landslide Hazards Program since 1990, and has been working on issues dealing with the generation of fire-related debris flows since 1994. Her primary focus is the development of tools and methods for defining fire-related debris-flow hazards, and although she has had research projects in Montana, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, her focus is now on southern California. She finds it hard to stay away from a good fire.