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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Fall 1984

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Easterbrook, Don J., 1935-

Second Advisor

Babcock, R. Scott (Randall Scott)

Third Advisor

Engebretson, David C.


Four debris torrent events have occurred in the Smith Creek drainage since the turn of the century. In 1917, 1949, 1971, and 1983, debris torrents transported large quantities of logs out of the basin onto the delta. Inventories of air photographs of the drainage before and after the three most recent events, combined with field observations after the 1983 event, show that debris torrents in the Smith Creek drainage are closely related to mass movements. Mass movements provide the momentum necessary to mobilize debris in stream channels during periods of heavy run-off, resulting in the formation of debris torrents. Debris avalanches originating at pre-1947 logging roads are correlated with the initiation of debris torrents during each of the 1949, 1971, and 1983 events.

Extensive logging in the Smith Creek drainage since the late 1800's has had an effect on slope stability in the basin. Logging roads and clearcutting can be correlated with most mass movements in the area, and slash left on valley slopes and in stream channels has been a source of debris for the formation of torrents. Logging activities have removed mature vegetation and disrupted slopes of low stability, making the area vulnerable to high intensity storms that are common in the region.

Debris torrents are a severe hazard to residents of the Smith Creek Delta, and have caused extensive damage to private property.




Debris torrents, Smith Creek drainage, Mass movements



Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Flood damage--Washington (State)--Whatcom County

Geographic Coverage

Smith Creek (Whatcom County, Wash.)--Floods; Whatcom County (Wash.)




masters theses




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