Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Torrent hazard control - Guidelines for the application of reconstructive methods by end-users

The use of reconstructive methods for past torrent process activity by non-specialist end-users is possible only to a limited degree. All relevant theoretical and practical backgrounds were brought together in a study, the results of which are accessible.
Detailed guidelines and instructions enable end-users to apply these methods within safe limits. Apart from technical information, the guidelines contain methodological backgrounds and warnings allowing end-users to verify that an intended use of these methods is scientifically justified and feasible for application by non-specialists. Further, the guidelines also indicate where specialist help is necessary.

Interest in former torrent processes may concern the activity at the torrent outlet on the corresponding fan (mainly debris flows) but also processes within the catchment, especially on parts of the slopes where landslides may be intermittently active. The guidelines pay attention to these different processes and to the different sites of occurrence of process activity. In the former case reconstruction contributes more directly to hazard appreciation, in the latter case it may give a better idea of the contribution of certain parts of a torrent to a recognized hazard.

The list of topics treated in the guidelines includes:
- Description of situations for which a reconstruction is recommended / feasible

- Analysis of historical data as a starting point (availability, interpretation, accuracy)

- Applying earth-science methods:
-- Geomorphological and sedimentological mapping of traces ('silent witnesses'); instruction for mapping and surveying; use of classifications and legends;

-- Reconstruction of geometrical properties of individual events; assessment of transport and deposition processes (important for determination of hazard type);

-- Dating of identified events; instructions for lichenometry and dendrochronology (the latter strictly limited to certain cases without expert help);

- Interpretation of results in terms of temporal activity pattern, magnitude/frequency relationship, and from the latter: probability estimates for events of given magnitude.

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