Monitoring post-fire runoff and erosion, Gap Fire, near Goleta, California

  • Channel monitoring stations in the Gap burn area near Goleta, CA.
  • Sensors at channel station 1.
  • A non-contact stage sensor (at left) is suspended approximately 2 meters above a pressure transducer mounted in the center of the channel bed.
  • Rain-triggered video camera overlooking the channel at station 1.


Rainfall on steep burned basins can quickly transform into potentially dangerous flash floods and debris flows. In July 2008 the 9,000-acre Gap Fire burned many steep canyons above Goleta.

After the fire the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) installed instruments to monitor floods and debris flows in a small 0.01 km2 sub-basin in the burned area. These instruments collected data on rainfall, flow stage, bed pore pressure, and soil moisture. In the first winter after the fire, the site recorded several moderate flood events.

Monitoring was discontinued in April 2009, because rapid spring growth of vegetation had substantially reduced the threat of flash floods and debris flows.

Time lapse of vegetation recovery.

This video requires Get Adobe Flash playerAdobe Flash Player

Purpose of Monitoring

Data collection at this site is intended to advance the understanding of post-fire runoff, erosion, and debris-flow generation processes and to provide information from the burned area to the National Weather Service for warning decision-making.

Current Monitoring Status

Monitoring discontinued

Monitoring performed in Cooperation with

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

For more information

Contact Information

Mailing Address

U.S. Geological Survey
Geologic Hazards Team
Box 25046, MS 966
Denver, CO 80225