National Research Program

Erosion and Deposition Processes

This project investigates erosion and deposition processes at multiple scales. The research results are used to develop physically-based algorithms of the essential processes at various scales, which can be linked together to form geomorphic models to predict future change. Change can be the result of disturbances such as hurricanes, wildfires, and dam removal; desired restoration of watershed elements such as hillslopes and channels; or potential changes in critical variables as the result of climate change.

An important step in developing models to predict sediment erosion and deposition at different scales is to understand the transformation of rainfall into runoff at the appropriate spatial and temporal scales. For example, watersheds burned by wildfire provide a natural laboratory where vegetation has been mostly or completely removed such that the rainfall-runoff response is amplified and easier to study. This research is focused on understanding the spatial and temporal character of rainfall as well as the spatial variability and the connectivity of soil properties, which control the infiltration processes. Prediction of erosion and deposition at the hillslope scale is focused on understanding the process of shallow, unsteady flow where the relative roughness causing friction can be much greater than, for example, in perennial channels with nearly steady flow. As the spatial scale increases, the prediction of erosion requires additional understanding of the complex geomorphic pattern of the channel network. And finally, this research is focused on developing a geomorphic model of river evolution by quantifying and modeling on the event scale rather than longer time scales of years, decades, and centuries: 1) the effects of turbulent fluid flow on stream banks and the effects of woody riparian vegetation on bank erosion, channel flow, and floodplain flow; 2) the transport of the sediment created by bank erosion; and 3) the consequent deposition processes on floodplains for this sediment during individual flood events For additional information on wildfire studies: see Hydrologic and Erosional Responses of Burned Watersheds.


Moody, J.A., Martin, D.A., Oakley, T.M., and Blanken, P. D., in press, Temporal and spatial variability of soil temperature and soil moisture after a wildfire: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5015.

Ebel, B.A., Moody, J.A., and Martin, D.A., 2012, Hydrologic conditions controlling runoff generation immediately after wildfire: Water Resources Research, v. 48, W03529. doi:10.1029/2011WR011470 (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 2220 KB, published by the American Geophysical Union, not subject to U.S. copyright)

Moody, J.A., 2012, An analytical method for predicting postwildfire peak discharges: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5236, 36 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 4 MB)

Moody, J.A., and Ebel, B.A., 2012, Hyper-dry conditions provide new insights into the cause of extreme floods after wildfire: Catena, v. 93, p. 58-63. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Griffin, E.R., Smith, J.D., Friedman, J.M., and Vincent, K.R., 2010, Progression of streambank erosion during a large flood, Rio Puerco Arroyo, New Mexico: Proceedings of the 4th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and of the 9th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, 12 p. (on-line paper in pdf format, 942 KB).

Kinner, D.A., and Moody, J.A., 2010, Spatial variability of steady-state infiltration into a two-layer soil system on burned hillslopes: Journal of Hydrology, v. 381, no. 3-4, p. 322-332. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Meade, R.H., and Moody, J.A., 2010, Causes for the decline of the suspended-sediment discharge in the Mississippi River System, 1940-2007: Hydrological Processes, v. 24, no. 1, p. 35-49. (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 493 KB, published as a U.S. Government work in the public domain by John Wiley & Sons)

Moody, J. A., 2010, Plot-scale sediment transport processes on a burned hillslope as a function of particle size: Proceedings of the 4th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and of the 9th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, 12 p. (on-line paper in pdf format, 132 KB)

Moody, J.A., Kinner, D.A., Úbeda, X., 2009, Linking hydraulic properties of fire-affected soils to infiltration and water repellency: Journal of Hydrology, v. 379, no. 3-4, p. 291-303. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Moody, J.A., and Martin, D.A., 2009, Forest fire effects on geomorphic processes, in Cerdá, A., and Robichaud, P., eds., Fire Effects on Soils and Restoration Strategies: Science Publishers, Inc, Enfield,New Hampshire, USA, p. 41-79.

Moody, J.A., and Martin, D.A., 2009, Synthesis of sediment yields after wildland fire in different rainfall regimes in the western United States: International Journal of Wildland Fire, v. 18 no. 1, p. 96-115. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Vincent, K. R., Friedman, J. M., and Griffin, E. R., 2009, Erosional consequence of saltcedar control: Environmental Management, v. 44, no. 2, p.  218-227. doi:10.1007/s00267-009-9314-8 (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 486 KB, published as a U. S. Government work by SpringerLink)

For bibliographic citations by John A. Moody and Eleanor R. Griffin prior to 2009, see additional bibliography.

John A. Moody (professional profile)
U.S. Geological Survey, 3215 Marine St., Boulder, CO
Telephone: 303-541-3011

Eleanor R. Griffin (professional profile)
U.S. Geological Survey, 3215 Marine St., Boulder, CO
Telephone: 303-541-3041

For information on additional projects in the National Research Program, see Indexes to NRP projects and bibliographies.

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