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Sediment loading key to predicting post-wildfire debris flows

2/10/2020

Francisco Tutella
February 05, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The mudslides that follow wildfires in Southern California can be deadly and difficult to
predict. New research can help officials identify areas prone to these mudslides and respond before disaster occurs, according to scientists.

Mudslides, or debris flows, can occur when rainfall washes away the buildup of sediment in mountain channels. Roughly equal parts water and sediment, debris flows are strong enough to carry large boulders downhill and threaten communities on or near the mountains. The debris flows in January 2018 that hit Montecito, California, killed 23 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Authorities attributed the mudslides to the wildfires that swept through the area the previous month. more

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