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Eleanor Griffin

Research Hydrologist

Contact Info

Short Biography

As a hydrologist in the National Research Program, located in Boulder, Colorado, I study interactions of woody vegetation, streamflow, and erosion and deposition processes. I combine geomorphic mapping from remote sensing data, including historical aerial photographs, satellite imagery, and aerial LiDAR survey data, with high-precision, high-resolution GPS survey data to determine geomorphic changes through time and space. I develop novel methods for quantifying geomorphic change using available data. I develop and apply methods for coupling physically based models of flow and suspended sediment transport to compute the effects of woody vegetation on sand transport in suspension. I am particularly interested in studying feedbacks between woody vegetation, flow, and sediment transport in semi-arid environments.

Prior to joining the USGS I served 5 and 1/2 years as a communication-electronics officer in the U.S. Army and 7 years as a communication systems engineer with a commercial communications company (GTE).


M.S., 1997, University of Colorado, Boulder, Geology (Focus on Hydrogeology)

B.S., 1980, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY (no major)

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Griffin, E.R. and Friedman, J.M., 2016, Contributions of moderately low flows and large floods to geomorphic change in the Rio Puerco arroyo, New Mexico, in Geology of the Belen Area: New Mexico Geological Society Fall Field Conference Guidebook (in press).

Friedman, J.M., Vincent, K.R., Griffin, E.R., Scott, M.L., Shafroth, P.B., Auble, G.T., 2015, Processes of arroyo filling in northern New Mexico, USA, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 127, 621-640. doi: 10.1130/B31046.1 [Link]

Griffin, E., and Friedman, J. 2015, Processes limiting depth of arroyo incision: Examples from the Rio Puerco, New Mexico, in Proceedings of the 3rd Joint Federal Interagency Conference (10th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference and 5th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference), April 19 - 23, 2015, Reno, Nevada, 797-808. [Link]

Meko, D.M., Friedman, J.M., Touchan, R., Edmondson, J.R., Griffin, E.R., and Scott, J.A., 2015, Alternative standardization approaches to improving streamflow reconstructions with ring-width indices of riparian trees, The Holocene, published online April 21, 2014 at doi:10.1177/0959683615580181 [Link]

Griffin, E.R., Perignon, M.C., Friedman, J.M., and Tucker, G.E., 2014, Effects of woody vegetation on overbank sand transport during a large flood, Rio Puerco, New Mexico, Geomorphology, 207, 30-50. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.10.025 [Link]

Benson, L.V., Griffin, E.R., Stein, J.R., Friedman, R.A., and Andrae, S.W., 2014, Mummy Lake: an unroofed ceremonial structure within a large-scale ritual landscape, Journal of Archaeological Science, 44, 164-179. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2014.01.021 [Link]

Perignon, M. C., Tucker, G. E., Griffin, E. R., and Friedman, J. M., 2013, Effects of riparian vegetation on topographic change during a large flood event, Rio Puerco, New Mexico, USA, J. Geophys. Res.: Earth Surface, 118, 1193-1209. doi: 10.1002/jgrf.20073 [Link]

Griffin, E. R., Smith, J.D., Friedman, J. M., and Vincent, K. R., 2010, Progression of streambank erosion during a large flood, Rio Puerco Arroyo, New Mexico, in Proceedings of the 2nd Joint Federal Interagency Conference, Las Vegas, NV, June 27 – July 1, 2010, 12 p. [Link]

Vincent, K. R., Friedman, J. M., and Griffin, E. R., 2009, Erosional consequence of saltcedar control, Environmental Management, Vol. 44, pp. 218-227. doi: 10.1007/s00267-009-9314-8 [Link]

Friedman, J. M., Auble, G. T., Andrews, E. D., Kittel, G., Madole, R. F., Griffin, E. R., and Allred, T. M., 2006, Transverse and longitudinal variation in woody riparian vegetation along a montane river, Western North American Naturalist, Vol. 66, No. 1, pp.78-91.

Price, F.D., Light, H.M., Darst, M.R., Griffin, E.R., Vincent, K.R., and Ziewitz, J.W., 2006, Change in channel width from 1941 to 2004, and change in mean bed elevation from 1960 to 2001, in the nontidal Apalachicola River, Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 191, 5 p.

Friedman, J.M.; Auble, G.T.; Shafroth, P.B.; Scott, M.L.; Merigliano, M.F.; Freehling, M.D.; Griffin, E.R., 2005. Dominance of non-native riparian trees in western USA, Biological Invasions, 7(4), 747-751. doi:10.1007/s10530-004-5849-z [Link]

Griffin, E. R., Kean, J. W., Vincent, K. R., Smith, J. D., and Friedman, J. M., 2005, Modeling effects of bank friction and woody bank vegetation on channel flow and boundary shear stress in the Rio Puerco, New Mexico, J. Geophys. Res., 110, F04023, doi:10.1029/2005JF000322. [Link]

Griffin, E. R. and Smith, J. Dungan, 2004, Floodplain stabilization by woody riparian vegetation during an extreme flood, in Bennett, S.J., and Simon, A., eds., Riparian Vegetation and Fluvial Geomorphology, Water Science and Application 8, American Geophysical Union, pp. 221-236.

Smith, J. Dungan and Griffin, E.R., 2002, Relation between geomorphic stability and the density of large shrubs on the flood plain of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River in the Deer Lodge Valley, Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4070, 25 p.

Griffin, E.R. and Smith, J. Dungan, 2002, State of flood plain vegetation with the meander belt of the Clark Fork of the Columbia River, Deer Lodge Valley, Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4109, 17 p.

Griffin, E.R. and Smith, J. Dungan, 2001, Computation of bankfull and flood-generated hydraulic geometries in East Plum Creek, Colorado, in Proceedings of the Seventh Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, Reno, Nevada, vol. 1, section II, p. 50-56.

Griffin, E. R. and Smith, J. Dungan, 2001, Analysis of vegetation controls on bank erosion rates, Clark Fork of the Columbia River, Deer Lodge Valley, Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4115, 8 p.

Wiele, S. M., Andrews, E. D., and Griffin, E. R., 1999, The effect of sand concentration on depositional rate, magnitude, and location in the Colorado River below the Little Colorado River, in The Controlled Flood in Grand Canyon, Webb et. al., ed., Geophysical Monograph 110, AGU, Washington, DC, pp. 131-145.

Wiele, S. M. and Griffin, E. R., 1997, Modifications to a one-dimensional model of unsteady flow in the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Water- Resources Investigations Report 97-4046, 17 p.

Griffin, E. R. and Wiele, S. M., 1996, Calculated hydrographs for unsteady research flows at selected sites along the Colorado River downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona, 1990 and 1991: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4266, 30 p.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Hydrologic Processesrunoff
Hydrologic Processessediment transport
Hydrologic Processesstreamflow

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Climate Variability & Change

Effects of woody vegetation on flow and sediment transport

Image of Current Focus for Effects of woody vegetation on flow and sediment transport
Predicting the effects of climate change on erosion and deposition processes in semi-arid environments is a complex problem because of feedbacks between streamflow, suspended sediment transport, and vegetation. Efforts to control invasive vegetation such as saltcedar (Tamarix sp.) can destabilize a channel in which the bed and banks are composed of fine sediment. In the case of the Rio Puerco arroyo in north-central New Mexico, aerial spraying of an herbicide in 2003 caused the channel banks through a 12-km reach to become vulnerable to erosion during subsequent floods. Extensive erosion of channel banks and the arroyo walls has continued in the sprayed reach since a large flood in August 2006. Understanding potential impacts downstream, including increased sediment loads to the Rio Grande, loss of cultural sites, and threats to infrastructure, requires the ability to quantify both local and reach scale geomorphic changes. Development of strategies to mitigate these effects requires the ability to apply process-based algorithms that can predict how erosion and deposition processes might proceed under varying climatic conditions.
Assessing the effects of potential climate change on the health of the riparian cottonwood forest in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, requires first understanding relations between weather and runoff in the Little Missouri River Basin. Historical weather and streamflow data suggest that the fraction of precipitation observed as runoff in a year varies from a minimum of about 1% to a maximum of about 14% in this basin. I am examining the causes of that variability and how it relates to observed differences in tree-ring growth in riparian cottonwoods. My research also will address the conditions that lead to erosive ice-jam events on this river. Results of this work will support the interpretation of past climate from the tree-ring record and the assessment of effects of future climate change on the health of the riparian cottonwood forest.

Professional Memberships

American Water Resources Association

American Geophysical Union

Geological Society of America

Rocky Mountain Hydrologic Research Center



Featured article in GSA Bulletin, 18 Sept. 2014

Contact Information

Eleanor Griffin
3215 Marine St, Bldg 6
Boulder, CO 80309
303-541-3084 - Fax
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