News & Events

Noon seminar - Thoughts in a dry land: Post-fire hydrology of Fourmile Canyon, CO

Monday, April 18, 2011, 12:00PM - 1:00PM


Brian Ebel

U.S. Geological Survey


ARC 620

The Fourmile Canyon Fire burned from 6 Sept. 2010 until containment on 13 Sept. 2010, spreading over 2,500 hectares. With 167 homes burned, the Fourmile Canyon fire was the costliest in Colorado history in terms of property damage. Over 300 homes remain in the burned area, leaving many people potentially in the path of floods and debris flows. Immediately after the fire, we established a study site at the southern edge of the fire near Sugarloaf Mountain to examine the hydrologic conditions and response to rainfall. Measurements collected at the site include soil-water content, matric potential, air and soil temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, barometric pressure, and incoming solar radiation. We will discuss the (i) observed hyper-dry conditions present in burned soils, (ii) measured changes in soil physical and hydraulic properties that impact surface and subsurface water fluxes, and (iii) hydrologic and geomorphologic process differences after the fire. We will also cover ongoing and future efforts aimed at understanding flood potential, nutrient fluxes, and water quality issues.