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Climatic controls on late Pleistocene alluvial fans, Cyprus.

Waters, J. V. and Jones, S. and Armstrong, H. A. (2010) 'Climatic controls on late Pleistocene alluvial fans, Cyprus.', Geomorphology., 115 (3-4). pp. 228-251.


Alluvial fans are commonly associated with tectonically active mountain ranges and tectonism is frequently held responsible for abrupt coarsening and cyclical sedimentation of alluvial fan sequences. Whilst it is accepted that tectonism provides the opportunity for alluvial fan development through the creation of topography, increasing gradients of fluvial systems supplying sediments, and creating accommodation for the storage of sediment flux, the role of climate in fan development is frequently neglected. The hypothesis that climatically controlled events can produce recognisable sedimentary signatures in alluvial fan deposits is tested in the active supra-subduction zone setting of the late Pleistocene of southern Cyprus. This study demonstrates through architectural analysis and the reconstruction of palaeoflood hydrology a recorded pattern of increasing and decreasing palaeoflow dynamics, with switches from a wetter to drier mode, clearly exhibited by changes in the sedimentology of the fan. At the present day Cyprus has a semi-arid climate and is influenced by a strongly seasonal rainfall pattern, largely restricted to the winter months (plus rare occurrences of summer cyclones). However at precession minima increased activity of western Mediterranean depressions produces wetter summers. Using inference we propose that longer-term increases in rainfall increased river discharge as recorded in the fan palaeoflood hydrology and occurred at minima in the precession. These periods correlate with the deposition of conglomeratic channels and open framework gravels. Drier periods are exhibited by sandier braided fluvial deposits. Shorter term or seasonal change is recorded in the form of 2nd and 3rd low order bounding surfaces. This increased activity of Mediterranean summer depressions increased precipitation to the wider Levantine area and was coincident with increased intensity of the north African and Indian Ocean (SW) monsoons. The resultant increase in river discharges at precession minima from both the Nile (and the wider Levant) resulted in the formation of sapropels in the eastern Mediterranean and is recorded as wet periods in speleothem deposits in the Soreq and Peqiin Caves of Israel. The predominant control of sedimentation on the late Pleistocene alluvial fans of southern Cyprus was climate.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Alluvial fan, Pleistocene, Cyprus, Precession minima, Depressions, Sapropels.
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Record Created:14 Oct 2011 09:35
Last Modified:14 Oct 2011 09:55

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