Paleofloods and historical floods of the Ardèche River, France

N. A. Sheffer*, Y. Enzel, G. Benito, T. Grodek, N. Poart, M. Lang, R. Naulet, D. Cœur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Better understanding of flood occurrences and long-term, floodplain planning, and flood risk assessment is achieved by integration of gauged, historical, and paleoflood data. The Ardèche River is ideal for this historical flood-paleoflood study because its historical flood levels record dates back as early as A.D. 587 and useful data date back to A.D. 1522, its systematic gauging record is over 100 years long, and the geologic and geomorphic settings are optimal for paleoflood studies. Three sites provide three different thresholds for flood stages and SWD accumulation. According to our one-dimensional (1-D) step-backwater calculations these three thresholds are 5200-5700 m3 s-1, 4900-5400 m3 s -1, and 3600-4000 m3 s-1 recording 6, 9, and 19 large Holocene floods, respectively. Dating the deposits enabled a correlation with the historical record. These paleoflood studies indicate that there are long gaps in flood occurrences on the Ardèche River; the floods are not randomly distributed in time but are clustered. They also indicate that the recent nineteenth century floods were the largest at the millennial timescale.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)ESG71-ESG713
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Floods
  • Historical floods
  • Hydraulic modeling
  • Paleoflood hydrology
  • Slackwater deposits


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