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The role of discharge variability in determining alluvial stratigraphy.

Nicholas, A.P. and Sambrook Smith, G.H. and Amsler, M.L. and Ashworth, P.J. and Best, J.L. and Hardy, R.J. and Lane, S.N. and Orfeo, O. and Parsons, D.R. and Reesink, A.J.H. and Sandbach, S.D. and Simpson, C.J. and Szupiany, R.N. (2016) 'The role of discharge variability in determining alluvial stratigraphy.', Geology., 44 (1). pp. 3-6.

Abstract

We illustrate the potential for using physics-based modeling to link alluvial stratigraphy to large river morphology and dynamics. Model simulations, validated using ground penetrating radar data from the Río Paraná, Argentina, demonstrate a strong relationship between bar-scale set thickness and channel depth, which applies across a wide range of river patterns and bar types. We show that hydrologic regime, indexed by discharge variability and flood duration, exerts a first-order influence on morphodynamics and hence bar set thickness, and that planform morphology alone may be a misleading variable for interpreting deposits. Indeed, our results illustrate that rivers evolving under contrasting hydrologic regimes may have very similar morphology, yet be characterized by marked differences in stratigraphy. This realization represents an important limitation on the application of established theory that links river topography to alluvial deposits, and highlights the need to obtain field evidence of discharge variability when developing paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Model simulations demonstrate the potential for deriving such evidence using metrics of paleocurrent variance.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G37215.1
Date accepted:13 October 2015
Date deposited:20 October 2015
Date of first online publication:11 November 2015
Date first made open access:11 November 2016

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