Initial Publication Date: December 12, 2013

Field Exercise - Caddy Canyon Debris Flow(s):

Glenn Thackray, Idaho State University

Intended Audience: This assignment has been used in a senior graduate-level geomorphology course with lower and upper division prerequisites.


Caddy Canyon landslide - near Idaho State University campus (topo map included in activity download below).


This exercise focuses on field observation and analysis of a debris flow that occurred near our campus in 2002. The strengths of the exercise are its emphasis on field observation, data collection, and synthesis of evidence.


This exercise consisted of a five-hour field exercise and subsequent data analysis. In the field, students made individual observation, participated in discussions of evidence, and collected group field data. Data analysis consisted of calculations of sediment yields, channel slopes, and erosive power. Designed for a geomorphology course, this activity addresses student fear of quantitative aspect and/or inadequate quantitative skills.


This activity is designed to improve students' skills in collecting field data and observations, evaluating possible debris flow sources, calculating sediment production rates, and evaluating sediment retention dams. This exercise also involves integration of field observations and data analysis and the development of improved engineered structures.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Students write a report which is evaluated by the instructor.

Materials and Handouts:

Activity Description/Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 397kB May29 08)