Title page for ETD etd-05112009-131038

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Haug, Erik William
Author's Email Address ewhaug@vt.edu
URN etd-05112009-131038
Title Climatic and Geomorphic Interactions on Alluvial Fans in the Atacama Desert, Chile
Degree Master of Science
Department Geosciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kraal, Erin R. Committee Chair
Diplas, Panayiotis Committee Member
Eriksson, Kenneth A. Committee Member
Sewall, Jacob O. Committee Member
Spotila, James A. Committee Member
  • climate
  • transport
  • runoff
  • flooding
  • hyper-arid
  • alluvial fan
Date of Defense 2009-05-01
Availability unrestricted
Alluvial fan surfaces in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile preserve evidence of recent, precipitation-driven, surface flows. Determining the hydrologic characteristics of these flows is important for understanding the effects of rare yet significant storms in the region. Flow reconstruction, runoff analysis, and comparison with climatological data yield surface activation recurrence intervals of ~1-20 years for three small fans and associated catchments proximal to Iquique and Antofagasta. Relatively short-lived and intense precipitation events (1-3 hour, > 4 mm/hr) are required to mobilize and transport the largest surface grains. Modeled discharges provide minimum constraints on the rates of precipitation that yield surface-forming flows in the hyper-arid region. The results of this study aid in understanding the evolution of various surfaces in the region. In particular, results provide a clear indication of the ability of a particular storm event --i.e., precipitation rate to activate a surface.

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