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Rock-fall hazards in the Yosemite Valley

January 1, 1998

This report with map shows the areas of highest rock-fall hazard in four selected parts of Yosemite Valley, California, defined by the National Park Service. Two specific levels of hazard are recognized and identified from rock falls ranging in size from individual boulders to moderate-sized events with volumes of 100,000 m3. These different levels of hazard are associated with areas within the base of the talus (red line in Plate 1) and those normally beyond the base of the talus which we refer to as the rock-fall shadow (yellow line in Plate 1). Rock falls of even greater size, exceeding 100,000 m3, referred to as rock avalanches, are a potential hazard, but the extent of this hazard is not easily defined. Rock avalanches are considered to be much less likely to occur because of the relatively few prehistoric rock-fall avalanche deposits that have been recognized in the Yosemite Valley. With the configuration of the steep valley walls and the relatively narrow valley, it should be noted that there are no absolutely safe or zero probability areas from large rock avalanches. This study has shown in map form where rock-fall hazard exists and has given general indication of the expected frequency of these events; however, the study does not quantify the probability at any specific location, nor evaluate the risk to people or facilities to such events.

Publication Year 1998
Title Rock-fall hazards in the Yosemite Valley
DOI 10.3133/ofr98467
Authors G. F. Wieczorek, M.M. Morrissey, Giulio Iovine, J. W. Godt
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 98-467
Index ID ofr98467
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse