Morphodynamics and facies architecture of streamflow-dominated, sand-rich alluvial fans, Pleistocene Upper Valdarno Basin, Italy
Massimiliano Ghinassi, Alessandro Ielpi, 2018. "Morphodynamics and facies architecture of streamflow-dominated, sand-rich alluvial fans, Pleistocene Upper Valdarno Basin, Italy", Geology and Geomorphology of Alluvial and Fluvial Fans: Terrestrial and Planetary Perspectives, D. Ventra, L. E. Clarke
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The overwhelming documentation of coarse-grained alluvial fans dominated by mass flow contrasts with the scarce accounts of finer grained, traction-dominated alluvial fans. To fill this gap, we present sedimentological and architectural data from a set of sand-rich, streamflow-dominated Pleistocene fans flanking the eastern Upper Valdarno Basin, Italy. The routing of sand-rich sediment resulted from the fast, intense weathering of the feldspar-rich, carbonate-deprived sandstone bedrock underlying the fan catchments. Although capable of entraining large boulders, high water discharge sustained tractional reworking along the proximal facies belts, hindering mass flow. The medial facies belts have a channelized, braided planform and are dominated by processes hardly distinguishable from those characterizing fluvial environments. Along the distal facies belts, extensive overbank tracts are composed of terminal splays and crevasse lobes, the spatial arrangement of which controlled the evolution of through-going tributary channels connected to the axial basin drainage. This study focused on the sedimentary processes, stratal architecture and morphodynamics of the alluvial fans and considered the effect of bedrock inheritance on their development. The results underline how granulometry and mass flow dominance are not distinctive of alluvial fan sedimentation per se and indicate how the critical detection of piedmont, radial palaeomorphology is crucial in the identification of ancient alluvial fans.
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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.