Debris tide

A Zits in which Jeremy’s mother confronts the disaster that is his bedroom:

The linguistic point is the compound debris tide (here spelled solid), which is reasonably transparent as used for tidal flow of natural and man-made debris, deposited on a beach, here used metaphorically for waves of trash in Jeremy’s bedroom.

The only debris compound in OED2 is debris-cone ‘a cone formed by the accumulation of volcanic ejecta, debris, etc.’, though surely debris flow (and maybe also debris tide) will be added eventually. Wikipedia says:

debris flow is a fast moving, liquefied landslide of unconsolidated, saturated debris that looks like flowing concrete. It is differentiated from a mudflow in terms of the viscosity and textural properties of the flow. Flows can carry material ranging in size from clay to boulders, and may contain a large amount of woody debris such as logs and tree stumps. Flows can be triggered by intense rainfall, glacial melt, or a combination of the two.

Debris flows in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California are the subject of one of the three main sections in John McPhee’s gripping book The Control of Nature.



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