Stratigraphic analysis, coupled with geochronologic techniques, indicates that a rich history of large Tennessee River floods is preserved in the Tennessee River Gorge area. Deposits of flood sediment from the 1867 peak discharge of record (460,000 cubic feet per second at Chattanooga, Tennessee) are preserved at many locations throughout the study area at sites with flood-sediment accumulation. Small exposures at two boulder overhangs reveal evidence of three to four other floods similar in size, or larger, than the 1867 flood in the last 3,000 years—one possibly as much or more than 50 percent larger. Records of floods also are preserved in stratigraphic sections at the mouth of the gorge at Williams Island and near Eaves Ferry, about 70 river miles upstream of the gorge. These stratigraphic records may extend as far back as about 9,000 years ago, giving a long history of Tennessee River floods. Although more evidence is needed to confirm these findings, a more in-depth comprehensive paleoflood study is feasible for the Tennessee River.
|Title||Prehistoric floods on the Tennessee River—Assessing the use of stratigraphic records of past floods for improved flood-frequency analysis|
|Authors||Tessa M. Harden, Jim E. O'Connor|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Oregon Water Science Center|