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Title: Flood dynamics, hazard and risks in an active alluvial fan system threatening Ciudad Juàrez Chihuahua Mexico
Author: Zuniga, David
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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The aim of this research is to assess hazards and risks associated with flooding in the city of Juárez, northern México, where there is a flood threat from active alluvial fans from mountains to the southwest and from the Rio Grande (Bravo River) to the northwest forming the northeast border of the city. Aims of this Ph.D. were addressed processing a digital elevation model (DEM) of the study area in a GIS platform to define the several alluvial fans, and thus to examine their history and palaeohydrology. Three OSL dates in the youngest parts of the fans show ages ranging from 74 - 31 ka. However, the fans were subsequently incised, broadly correlating with later Pleistocene to Holocene processes upstream, published in literature, in New México. These changes are not obviously linked to glacial-interglacial cycles, and there is indication of local controls of interplay of climate and topography, for which this work is a preliminary study. The flood threat to Juárez was addressed by using a classification of the uneven topography of the eroded alluvial fans, plus the Bravo River flood plain, into basins and subbasins. Field and laboratory work was used to define litho-facies of soils and rocks, location of structures such as, topographic and hydrologic apex and drainage system in the fans. The data were then used in association with published information on the parameters of the basins and sub-basins provided in published documents from the Mexican authorities to make flood models of the area, using standard models of HEC-HMS and HEC-RAS methods widely applied in semi-arid regions. The result was estimation of the ability of existing flood defences to resist high-flow floods that may be expected in upcoming decades. The modelling predicts that only a small number of the existing defences will hold in a catastrophic 1:100-year flood, and that substantial parts of the city are in considerable danger. Such results are important in relation to the expanded and dense population in Juárez, which is concentrated mostly on the most active part of the flooding system, the Colorado Fan, which is the subject of a focussed secondary study of vulnerability mapping. The map reveals that areas of the city of low socioeconomic development are under the greatest threat. Therefore there is a need for reconsideration of the city's flood planning, and remediation, plus the application of enforcements of areas which should not be built on, because of the threats.
Supervisor: Kershaw, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Topographic apex ; Aggradation ; Incision ; Hydrologic apex ; Pleistocene