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Debris Avalanches in Eastern Upland Forests

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During exceptionally heavy rains, debris avalanches may occur anywhere in forested mountains of the eastern United States. Examples from New Hampshire to North Carolina indicate that they are most probable when 5 or more inches of rain fall in a 24-hour period on steep (25-40°) slopes where soils are less than 36 inches deep. Risk increases with amount of summer rain and decreases with decreasing slope. As a practical matter, little can be done to prevent debris avalanching. That such disturbances may contribute large amounts of stream sediment should be considered in dealing with nonpoint stream pollution.

Millions of loads were carried down at one grand avalanche into the Ammonoosuc, when a grand waterspout broke upon the mountain in the fall of the year 1836. Rocks and trees of the largest dimension presented no obstacle to its course (Hill 1839).

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Forester, Forest Environmental Research, USDA Forest Service, Washington, D.C.

Publication date: June 1, 1982

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.476
    Ranking: 22 of 66 in forestry

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