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Water Resources of Alaska


Hydrology, Geomorphology, and Flood Profiles of the
Mendenhall River, Juneau, Alaska

By Edward G. Neal and Randy H. Host


Water-surface-profile elevations for the 2-, 20-, 25-, 50-, and 100-year floods were computed for the Mendenhall River near Juneau, Alaska, using the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineering Center River Analysis System model. The peak discharges for the selected recurrence intervals were determined using the standard log-Pearson type III method. Channel cross sections were surveyed at 60 locations to define hydraulic characteristics over a 5.5-mile reach of river beginning at Mendenhall Lake outlet and extending to the river mouth. A peak flow of 12,400 cubic feet per second occurred on the Mendenhall River on October 20, 1998. This discharge is equivalent to about a 10-year flood on the Mendenhall River and floodmarks produced by this flood were surveyed and used to calibrate the model. The study area is currently experiencing land-surface uplift rates of about 0.05 foot per year. This high rate of uplift has the potential to cause incision or downcutting of the river channel through lowering of the base level. Vertical datum used in the study area was established about 37 years before the most recent surveys of river-channel geometry. The resulting difference between land-surface elevations and sea level continues to increase. Continuing incision of the river channel combined with increased land-surface elevations with respect to sea level may result in computed flood profiles that are higher than actual existing conditions in the tidally influenced reach of the river.

[Full report, Acrobat PDF (2.3 MB) ]

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Neal, E.G., 1999, Hydrology, geomorphology, and flood profiles of the Mendenhall River, Juneau, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4150, 35 p.


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Last Modified: June 29, 2001

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