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Floods—well known to be both devastating and beneficial—also provide unique opportunities to test our understanding of river dynamics. A pressing question is why some areas have a preponderance of landslides next to rivers, while other locations exhibit a buildup on channel margins of silt, sand, and potentially pollutants. In this talk, I show how repeatable GIS mapping of stream power can be used to predict where different types of hazards will occur. The best predictions come from analyzing how stream power changes from one river location to the next (the stream power gradient), rather than analyzing if stream power is simply high or low at single locations. I share results from field work and satellite imagery after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, from radioisotope analysis of sediment in a nearby watershed in 2015, and drone images of rivers in Vermont after the July 2023 floods. Overall, this work gives insights on basic questions of how rivers shape our landscape, as well as applied questions of how to restore river systems, respond to floods, and prepare for future high flows.


All are welcome! Science majors are strongly encouraged to attend!

Snacks will be provided.

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