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Papers of Carl F. Nordin, Jr.

Identifier: WCFN

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Carl F. Nordin, Jr., consists of documents dated 1941 to 1998, with the bulk falling from 1958 to 1997. The collection primarily documents Nordin's domestic and international consulting work in China, South America, Oman, Egypt, and the U.S. West, as well as his development of a bag sampler for measuring sediment in deep rivers. Materials related to his career with the U.S. Geological Survey are largely absent, with the exception of publications he authored. Teaching materials from Nordin's appointment as temporary faculty (1973-1997) are also absent with the exception of a few lectures and course outlines in Subseries 4.1. Subseries 4.1 contains most but not all of his 100+ publications. Personal files are minimal and can be found in Series 2 and Series 5. The subjects best represented in the collection are river mechanics, sediment transport, and measurement. Material types include reports and publications, research notes and data, field books, correspondence, maps, slides, photographs, negatives, and floppy disks.


  • Creation: 1941-1998
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1958-1997


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, this collection is stored off-site, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Carl F. Nordin, Jr., (1929-1998) worked as a hydraulic engineer for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Colorado State University (CSU) as an expert on sediment transport and measurement. He also developed a suspended sediment bag sampler for measuring deep rivers still used throughout the world and garnered an international reputation as a consultant studying water and sediment problems in the world's largest river basins.

Carl F. Nordin, Jr., was born September 14, 1929, in Loveland, Colorado. He earned two degrees in civil engineering from Colorado State University (CSU)--B.S. in 1958 and M.S. in 1962--before obtaining his Ph.D. from CSU in 1968.

In 1954, Nordin started a 30-year career with the Water Resources Division of the USGS. From 1954 to 1963, he worked as a research hydraulic engineer and project director based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. From 1969 to 1973, he was projects chief for all USGS research on alluvial river flows conducted at Colorado State University's Hydraulics Laboratory in Fort Collins. During his final decade with the USGS, from 1974 to 1984, he served as research advisor for the USGS Water Resources Division at the Denver Federal Center.

From 1968 to 1997, CSU granted Nordin yearly appointments as a faculty affiliate and part-time professor of civil engineering. He taught classes on hydraulics and hydrology, and he served as major professor or committee member for many of CSU's civil engineering graduate students. He also developed the first graduate program for hydrology at the Technical University of Denmark while serving as a visiting professor.

Nordin consulted worldwide as a sediment and river mechanics expert, beginning in the 1970s. He worked on projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Highway Administration studying riverbed sediment size in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. He was one of eleven hydraulic engineers invited by the Chinese Society of Hydraulic Engineers to advise the People's Republic of China on flood and sediment control problems in the 1970s, and he returned to China as a World Bank consultant for the Three Gorges Dam project feasibility study in the 1990s. He participated in the first systematic measurement of suspended sediment and bed material for the Amazon River in 1976 and 1977, and during the project he developed a collapsible-bag sampler for measuring suspended sediment load in deep rivers. The device is still used worldwide. He also directed studies on river and reservoir sedimentation for the Aswan High Dam in Egypt, and the Rio Caroni and Rio Orinoco in Venezuela.

Nordin served on committees for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Research Council, International Association for Hydraulic Research, and American Geophysical Union. He authored more than 100 reports and papers and earned the ASCE's J.C. Stevens Award in 1991 for his paper, "Uncertainty in Suspended Sediment Transport Curves."

Nordin and his wife, Patricia, had two children, a son, Alan, and a daughter, Lee. Nordin died May 25, 1998.


21.5 linear feet (13 record cartons, 2 document boxes, 1 flat box)

Language of Materials



Carl F. Nordin, Jr., (1929-1998) was a hydraulic engineer for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Colorado State University. In 1954, he began a 30-year career with the USGS. From 1969 to 1973, he was projects chief for all USGS research on alluvial river flows conducted at Colorado State University, and from 1974 to 1984 he served as research advisor for the Water Resources Division of the USGS in Denver. After retiring from the USGS in 1984, he became a part-time professor at CSU. Nordin worked on projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Highway Administration, and he consulted for water projects in Venezuela, China, Egypt, and several other countries, especially after retiring from the USGS. The collection consists of field notebooks, reports, publications, correspondence, maps, graphs, slides, photographs, and other documents relating to Nordin's work on sediment transport and measurement. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.


Some portions of the collections had an inherent arrangement that was retained; other portions were arranged for the ease of research use. Series 1 was arranged to the box level rather than the folder level.

The collection consists of 6 series in 16 boxes:

Series 1: Consulting and research, 1941-1997 and undated

Subseries 1.1: China, 1947-1994

Subseries 1.2: South America, 1963-1996

Subseries 1.3: Oman, 1964-1993 and undated

Subseries 1.4: U.S. West for Sabol, 1957-1997

Subseries 1.5: U.S. Geological Survey, 1974-1994

Subseries 1.6: Colorado State University, 1991-1995

Subseries 1.7: Sediment studies, 1941-1995 and undated

Series 2: Correspondence, 1985-1998

Series 3: Field books, 1963-1997 and undated

Series 4: Printed materials, 1960-1997 and undated

Subseries 4.1: By Nordin, 1960-1997 and undated

Subseries 4.2: By others, 1967-1995 and undated

Series 5: Personal and miscellaneous materials, 1958-1997

Series 6: Visual materials, 1968-1996 and undated

Subseries 6.1: Photographs, 1976-1996 and undated

Subseries 6.2: Slides, 1968-1996 and undated


Patricia Nordin, Carl F. Nordin's widow, donated the collection in four separate accessions in 2006.

Online Materials

Some materials have been scanned and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

Like CSU engineering professors Maurice Albertson, Daryl Simons, and Everett Richardson, Nordin worked at the USGS and CSU. His consulting work in China, Egypt, Venezuela, Pakistan and his research on domestic rivers, especially sedimentation and scour, results in a great deal of topical overlap between this collection and Albertson, Simons, and Richardson's. However, there is no significant repetition of materials between this collection and others in the Water Resources Archive.


Processing was completed in July 2014. Seven boxes of reference material--mostly books--were removed from the collection, and confidential legal materials were removed from consulting files. Booklets, postcards, and pamphlets in foreign languages meant for tourists were also removed if not directly related to Nordin's project work. Series 1, Nordin's consulting and research, was minimally processed. The entire collection was re-housed in acid-free boxes and folders. Minor spelling errors on folders were corrected for research convenience. Some metal fasteners were removed, as were all rubber bands. Duplicates beyond two copies were removed. Photographs, negatives, slides, and floppy disks found in Series 1 were generally left in their original locations but were re-sleeved or interleaved with acid-free paper. Unlabeled photographs and slides that could not be matched to specific locations or projects were weeded. All other slides and photographs were relocated to their own series and rehoused.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by the phrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of each copy. Authored articles, books and studies are listed in bibliographic form.

Guide to the Papers of Carl F. Nordin, Jr.
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Clarissa J. Trapp
Copyright 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA