Orbital-climate control of mass-flow sedimentation in a Miocene alluvial-fan succession (Teruel Basin, Spain)
Dario Ventra, Hemmo A. Abels, Frederik J. Hilgen, Poppe L. de Boer, 2018. "Orbital-climate control of mass-flow sedimentation in a Miocene alluvial-fan succession (Teruel Basin, Spain)", Geology and Geomorphology of Alluvial and Fluvial Fans: Terrestrial and Planetary Perspectives, D. Ventra, L. E. Clarke
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The role of climate change in driving alluvial-fan sedimentation is hard to assess in pre-Quaternary successions, for which detailed chronologies and climate-proxy records cannot be easily established. In the Teruel Basin (Spain), high-resolution (104–105 years) chronological and palaeoclimatic information was derived by orbital tuning of Late Miocene mudflat to ephemeral-lake deposits. The semi-arid palaeoclimate made this low-gradient, basinal environment sensitive to thresholds in the local hydrological balance. Basic facies rhythms are attributed to alternating, relatively humid/arid phases controlled by the climatic precession cycle. The lower stratigraphic interval of this reference section interfingers with distal, coarse-clastic beds from a coeval alluvial fan. The consistent interdigitation of debris-flow deposits with distal strata indicative of arid-to-humid climate transitions shows that fan sedimentation was regulated by climate cyclicity. In particular, the largest volumes of terrigenous debris were shed from the fan onto adjacent mudflats during transitions to relatively humid periods with pronounced seasonality, during precession minima. Distal to medial sections within alluvial-fan outcrops also feature prominent, laterally continuous alternations of coarse- and fine-clastic packages. This high degree of architectural organization, uncommon in fan successions, and stratigraphic relationships with the reference section suggest orbitally controlled climate change to have been the forcing mechanism.
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Alluvial and fluvial fans are the most widespread depositional landform bordering the margins of highland regions and actively subsiding continental basins, across a broad spectrum of tectonic and climatic settings. They are significant to the local morphodynamics of mountain regions and also to the evolution of sediment-routing systems, affecting the propagation and preservation of stratigraphic signals of environmental change over vast areas.
The volume presents case studies discussing the geology and geomorphology of alluvial and fluvial fans from both active systems and ancient ones preserved in the stratigraphic record. It brings together case studies from a range of continents, climatic and tectonic settings, some introducing innovative monitoring and analysis techniques, and it provides an overview of current debates in the field.
This volume will be of particular interest to geologists, geomorphologists, sedimentologists and the general reader with an interest in Earth science.