Glossary and List of Acronyms
Pertaining to or composed of alluvium, or deposited by a stream or running water.
A general term for clay, silt, sand, gravel, or similar unconsolidated detrital material deposited during comparatively recent geologic time by a stream or other body of running water as a sorted or semisorted sediment in the bed of the stream or its floodplain or delta, or as a cone or fan at the base of a mountain slope; esp. such a deposit of fine-grained texture (silt or silty clay) deposited during time of flood.
A level or gently sloping tract or a slightly undulating land surface produced by extensive deposition of alluvium, usually adjacent to a river that periodically overflows its banks; it may be situated on a floodplain, a delta, or an alluvial fan.
The branching and rejoining of channels to form a netlike pattern.
A sudden cutting off or separation of land by a flood or by an abrupt change in the course of a stream, as by a stream breaking through a meander or by a sudden changes in current, whereby the stream deserts its old path for a new one.
A mineral horizon of a soil, below the A horizon, sometimes called the zone of accumulation and characterized by one or more of the following conditions: an illuvial accumulation of humus or silicate clay, iron, or aluminum; a residual accumulation of sesquioxides or silicate clays; darker, stronger, or redder coloring due to the presence of sesquioxides; a blockly or prismatic structure.
A broad, continuous alluvial slope or gently inclined detrital surface, extending along and from the base of a mountain range out into and around an inland basin, formed by the lateral coalescence of a series of separate but confluent alluvial fans, and having an undulating character due to the convexities of the component fans; it occurs most commonly in semiarid and desert regions, as in the southwestern United States. A bajada is a surface of deposition, as contrasted
with a pediment (a surface of erosion that resembles a bajada in surface form), and its top often merges with a pediment.
A secondary calcium carbonate accumulation in the lower B-horizon that occurs as coatings on clasts and as lenses in fine-grained sediment matrices; it is at least 15 cm thick and contains 15 percent or more calcium carbonate.
An individual constituent, grain, or fragment of a sediment or rock, produced by the mechanical weathering (disintegration) of a larger rock mass.
A bowl-shaped concavity in bedrock that collects sediment between debris flows.
(a) A general term applied to any loose, heterogeneous, and incoherent mass of soil material or rock fragments deposited chiefly by gravity-driven mass-wasting usually at the base of a steep slope or cliff; e.g. talus, cliff debris, and avalanche material. (b) Alluvium deposited by unconcentrated surface run-off or sheet erosion, usually at the base of a slope.
Small-scale folding that is superimposed on larger-scale folding. Crenulations may occur along the cleavage planes of a deformed rock.
A mass movement involving rapid flowage of debris of various kinds under various conditions; specifically, a high-density mudflow containing abundant coarse-grained materials and resulting almost invariably from an unusually heavy rain.
The low, nearly flat, alluvial tract of land deposited at or near the mouth of a river, commonly forming a triangular or fan-shaped plain of considerable area enclosed and crossed by many distributaries of the main river.
A tree-like pattern, typical of most drainage networks.
Surfaces of tightly packed gravel that armor, as well as rest on, a thin layer of silt, presumably formed by weathering of the gravel. They have not experienced fluvial sedimentation for a long time, as shown by the thick varnish coating the pebbles, the pronounced weathering beneath the silt layer, and the striking smoothness of the surface, caused by obliteration of the original relief by downwasting into depressions.
A dark coating (from 2 to 500 microns thick) that forms on rocks at and near the Earth's surface as a result of mineral precipitation and eolian influx. The chemical composition of rock varnish typically is dominated by clay minerals and iron and/or manganese oxides and hydroxides, forming red and black varnishes, respectively. With time the thickness or the coating increases if abrasion and burial of the rock surface do not occur. As a result, clastic sediments on alluvial fan surfaces that have been abandoned for long periods of time have much darker and thicker coatings of varnish than do younger deposits.
A lateral branching or flowing apart of a glacier in its ablation area. This separation may result from the glacier's spilling over a preglacial divide or through a gap made by basal sapping of a cirque wall, or from downvalley blocking at the junction of a tributary glacier. Can be used to describe similar processes in water flow.
Pertaining to the wind; esp. said of rocks, soils, and deposits (such as loess, dune sand, sand some volcanic tuffs) whose constituents were transported (blown) and laid down by atmospheric currents, or of landforms produced or eroded by the wind, or of sedimentary structures (such as ripple marks) made by the wind, or of geologic processes (such as erosion and deposition) accomplished by the wind.
Of or pertaining to or living in a stream or river; produced by river action, as in a fluvial plain.
Said of a rock or mineral that crumbles naturally or is easily broken, pulverized, or reduced to powder, such as a soft or poorly cemented sandstone. (b) Said of a soil consistency in which moist soil material crushes easily under gentle to moderate pressure (between thumb and forefinger) and coheres when pressed together.
The highest point on an alluvial fan where flow is last confined.
The area between rivers; esp. the relatively undissected upland or ridge between two adjacent valleys containing streams flowing in the same general direction.
The description of rocks, esp. sedimentary clastics and esp. in hand specimen and in outcrop, on the basis of such characteristics as color, structures, mineralogic composition, and grain size.
A rich, permeable soil composed of a friable mixture of relatively equal and moderate proportions of clay, silt, and sand particles, and usually containing organic matter (humus) with a minor amount of gravelly material. It has somewhat gritty feel yet is fairly smooth and slightly plastic. Loam may be of residual, fluvial, or eolian origin, and includes many losses and many of the alluvial deposits of floodplains, alluvial fans, and deltas.
Said of a soil (such as a clay loam and a loamy sand) whose texture and properties are intermediate between a coarse-textured or sandy soil and a fine-textured or clayey soil.
The external structure form, and arrangement of rocks in relation to the development of landforms; the shape of the Earth's surface; geomorphology.
PedimentA broad, flat or gently sloping, rock-floored erosion surface or plain of low relief, typically developed by subaerial agents (including running water) in an arid or semiarid region at the base of an abrupt and receding mountain front or plateau escarpment, and underlain by bedrock (occasionally by older alluvial deposits) that may be bare but more often partly mantled with a thin and discontinuous veneer of alluvium derived from the upland masses and in transit
(adj.) Lying or formed at the base of a mountain or mountain range; e.g. a piedmont terrace or a piedmont pediment. (n.) An area, plain, slope, glacier, or other feature at the base of a mountain; e.g. a foothill or a bajada. In the U.S., the Piedmont is a plateau extending from New Jersey to Alabama and lying east of the Appalachian Mountains.
The quantification of risk.
A landform that has survived decay or disintegration (such as an erosion remnant) or that has been left behind after the disappearance of the greater part of its substance (such as a remnant island).
The average slope of a drainage basin; the ratio of maximum relief to basin length.
The study of the deformation and flow of matter.
Pertaining to or formed by a river. Situated or living along the banks of a river; e.g. a ''riverine ore deposit."
See desert varnish.
(a) A line of cliffs produced by faulting or by erosion. The term is an abbreviated form of escarpment, and the two terms commonly have the same meaning, although "scarp" is more often applied to cliffs formed by faulting. (b) A relatively steep and straight, cliff-like face or slope of considerable linear extent, breaking the general continuity of the land by separating level or gently sloping surfaces lying at different levels, as along the margin of a plateau, mesa, terrace, or bench.
A strongly foliated crystalline rock formed by dynamic metamorphism which can be readily split into thin flakes or slabs due to the well-developed parallelism of more than 50 percent of the minerals present.
(a) The powerful and concentrating clearing and digging action of flowing air or water, esp. the downward erosion by stream water in sweeping away mud and silt on the outside curve of a bend, or during time of flood. (b) A place in a streambed swept (scoured) by running water, generally leaving a gravel bottom.
A broad expanse of moving, storm-borne water that spreads as a thin, continuous, relatively uniform film over a large area in an arid region and that is not concentrated into well-defined channels; its distance of flow is short and its duration is measured in minutes or hours. Sheetfloods usually occur before runoff is sufficient to promote channel flow, or after a period of sudden and heavy rainfall.
An overland flow or downslope movement of water taking the form of a thin, continuous film over relatively smooth soil or rock surfaces and not concentrated into channels larger than rills.
A very wet, highly mobile, semiviscous mixture or suspension of finely divided, insoluble matter; e.g. a muddy lake-bottom deposit having the consistency of a thick soup.
The slow (normally 0.5–5.0 cm/yr), viscous, downslope flow of waterlogged soil and other unsorted and saturated surficial material.
That branch of hydrology involving the manipulation of statistical characteristics of hydrologic variables with the aim of solving hydrologic problems, using the stochastic properties of the events.
A process in which the dependent variable is random (so that the prediction of its values depends on a set of underlying probabilities) and the outcomes at any instant is not known with certainty.
(a) The branch of geology that deals with the definition and description of major and minor natural divisions of rocks (mainly sedimentary, but not excluding igneous and metamorphic) available for study in outcrop or from subsurface, and with the interpretation of their significance in geologic history: It involves interpretation of features of rock strata in terms of their origin, occurrence, environment, thickness, lithology, composition, fossil content, age, history, paleogeographic conditions, relation to organic evolution, and relation to other geologic concepts. (b) The arrangement of strata, esp. as to geographic position and chronological order of sequence.
(a) A slight depression, sometimes swampy, in the midst of generally level land. (b) A shallow depression in an undulating ground moraine due to uneven glacial deposition. (c) A long, narrow, generally shallow, trough-like depression between two beach ridges, and aligned roughly parallel to the coastline.
Natural cavities in rocks formed by weathering.
The head or highest point on an active alluvial fan.
A gravity wave that propagates in an open channel and results in appreciable displacement of the water in a direction parallel to the flow.
(a) A term applied in the western U.S. (esp. in the arid and semiarid regions of the south west) to the broad, shallow, gravelly or stony, normally dry bed of an intermittent or ephemeral stream, often situated at the bottom of a canyon; it is occasionally filled by a torrent of water. (b) Loose or eroded surface material (such as gravel, sand, silt) collected, transported, and deposited by running water, as on the lower slopes of a mountain range, esp. coarse alluvium.
List of Acronyms
Base Flood Elevation
Conditional Letter of Map Revision
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Flood Insurance Rate Map
Hydrologic Engineering Center
Letter of Map Amendment
Letter of Map Revision
National Flood Insurance Program
National Research Council
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Special Flood Hazard Area
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Geological Survey