USGS publishes “Identifying and preserving high-water mark data: techniques and methods 3-A24”

Mar 18, 2016 | News & Views, What's New

USGS Published the Techniques and Methods Report Book 3-Section A24: “Identifying and Preserving High-water Mark Data”

The Office of Surface Water announces the availability of the Techniques and Methods report, “Identifying and Preserving High-Water Mark Data (Techniques and Methods Report Book 3-Section A24).”

This report was compiled and edited by Todd Koenig and Jennifer Bruce, with most of the content authored or contributed by Jim O’Connor, Ben McGee, Bob Holmes, Ryan Hollins, Brandon Forbes, Michael Kohn, Matt Schellekens, Zach Martin and Marie Peppler.

The report serves as a field guide for identifying high-water marks and presents guidance and proper techniques for preserving, evaluating and recording the data collected for use in surface-water modelling, flood documentation, indirect streamflow measurements and other important work.

The report is organized into four sections. The first is a field guide with photos and illustrations intended to familiarize the new hydrographer with a wide variety of high-water mark evidence left by flood and high-flow events. The second section presents standard methods for preserving high-water mark data with respect to various uses of that data, including new guidance on uncertainty evaluation. The third section is a collection of best practices collected from experienced field personnel that will benefit new and advanced personnel. Finally, an appendix on Paleoflood High-Water Marks presents a substantial introduction to the practice of hunting very old marks. Seven narratives are provided throughout the report to help illustrate the content.

The Office of Surface Water would like to thank the authors and photo contributors for their involvement. This guide was a collaborative effort by contributors from across the nation. In addition, the USGS Water Science Field Team’s Surface Water Specialists and other experts provided extensive technical review to ensure a consistent and technically accurate approach to high-water mark hunting.

The report is available for download at:, and printed copies will be distributed to Water Science Centers.