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Swain County 5 03 Debris Flows Rpt 2005 R2

Swain County 5 03 Debris Flows Rpt 2005 R2

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Published by Lynne Vogel
Swain County, NC Landslide Report
Swain County, NC Landslide Report

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Published by: Lynne Vogel on Jul 19, 2011
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Report On The May 5-7, 2003 Debris Flowson Slopes Underlain by Sulfidic Bedrock of theWehutty, Nantahala and Copper Hill Formations,Swain County, North Carolina
 
ByRichard M. WootenRebecca S. Latham
North Carolina Geological SurveyDivision of Land ResourcesDepartment of Environment and Natural Resources
 In Cooperation With:
North Carolina Division of Emergency ManagementDepartment of Crime Control and Public Safety
Hazard Mitigation Grant AgreementHMGP-DR-1448-001August 3, 2004
 
 
i
Table of Contents
Report on the May 5-7, 2003 Debris Flows on Slopes Underlain by Sulfidic Bedrockof the Wehutty, Nantahala and Copper Hill Formations,Swain County, North Carolina
 
PageIntroduction……………………………………………………………………….… 1Debris Flow Locations…………………………………………………………….... 2Precipitation……………………………………………………………………….... 2Fort Payne Earthquake…………………………………………………………….... 3Debris Flow Study Sites…………………………………………………………...... 3Charley Branch Debris Flows…………………………………………….... 3Lands Creek Debris Flows……………………………………………….… 4So Hi Trail Debris Flow……………………………………………………. 5Alarka Creek Debris Flows……………………………………………..….. 5Public Safety………………………………………………………………………… 5Existing and Potential Environmental Impacts……………………………………… 6Slope Stability………………………………………………………….…... 6Sedimentation……………………………………………………………..... 6Acid Drainage……………………………………………………………..... 7Locations of Sulfidic Rock Units………………………………………………….... 7Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………..… 8References Cited…………………………………………………………………..… 8Glossary of Selected Geological Terms…………….……………..……….……...… 9Table 1……………………………………………………………………………..… 10Figure 1……………………………………………………………………………… 11Figure 2……………………………………………………………………………… 12Figure 3……………………………………………………………………………… 13Figure 4……………………………………………………………………………… 14Figure 5……………………………………………………………………………… 15Figure 6…………………………………………………………………………….… 16Figure 7……………………………………………………………………………… 17Figure 8……………………………………………………………………………… 18Figure 9……………………………………………………………………………… 19Figure 10…………………………………………………………………………….. 20
List of Tables and Figures
Table 1.
Table of latitude and longitude coordinates for debris flow sites.
Figure 1.
Location of debris flow study sites.
Figure 2.
Precipitation and stream discharge associated with the May 5-7, 2003 flooding.
Figure 3.
Color infrared aerial photographs of the Charley Branch, Lands Creek, and Alarka Creek areas.
Figure 4.
Photographs of debris flows CB1, CB4, and CB5 in the Charley Branch area.
Figure 5.
Cross section and photographs of debris flow CB5 in the Charley Branch area.
Figure 6.
Photographs of scarps and tension cracks in slopes at Charley Branch sites CB2 and CB3.
Figure 7.
Photographs of the Lands Creek I and Lands Creek II debris flows.
Figure 8.
Photographs of the So Hi Trail debris flow and acid drainage.
Figure 9.
Photographs of the Midnight Lane debris flow in the Alarka Creek area.
Figure 10.
Chart showing rainfall amounts and paths of 20
th
century hurricanes that triggered debris flowevents in western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachians.
 
 
1
Report on the May 5-7, 2003 Debris Flows on Slopes Underlainby Sulfidic Bedrock of theWehutty, Nantahala and Copper Hill Formations,Swain County, North Carolina
ByRichard M. WootenRebecca S. LathamNorth Carolina Geological SurveyAugust 3, 2004
Introduction
North Carolina Geological Survey (NCGS) staff recently collected geologic dataon debris flows that were triggered by heavy rains during May 5-7, 2003 in SwainCounty, North Carolina. These studies are being done in cooperation with the NorthCarolina Division of Emergency Management, and were made possible with informationprovided by Swain County Emergency Management, and local residents in the areasaffected by the debris flows.Debris flows are a type of landslide characterized by a mixture of soil, rock fragments, and water that moves rapidly down slope. In this study, most of the debrisflows traveled mainly along existing drainage channels. Some of these debris flowsreached velocities of about 25 miles per hour (~37 feet per second), and one traveleddown slope about 3,400 feet. Hazards and environmental impacts related to debris flowsinclude the threat to public safety, damage to roads and water supply facilities, anddegradation of water quality from sedimentation and potential acid runoff.One of the purposes of this investigation is to determine if there are any rock orsoil types in western North Carolina prone to slope movements (landslides). Althoughdata collection and analyses are not yet complete on these and other slope movementsthat occurred during the May 5-7 timeframe, initial studies show that six major debrisflows originated on slopes underlain by sulfidic rock types. Five of the six major debrisflows originated on slopes underlain by sulfidic, graphitic, mica schist horizons in theWehutty and Nantahala Formations (fig. 1). The sixth debris flow originated on a slopeunderlain by sulfidic mica schist, metasiltstone, and metagraywacke of the Copper HillFormation.Sulfidic rock contains the iron sulfide minerals pyrite (fool’s gold) and/orpyrrhotite. On freshly exposed surfaces these minerals have a brass- or gold-colored,metallic luster. Sulfidic rocks weather rapidly upon exposure in road cuts and otherexcavations. Pervasive orange, red-orange, and yellow staining is characteristic of 

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