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Factors controlling the Holocene avulsion history of the Rhine-Meuse Delta (the Netherlands)

Esther Stouthamer and Henk J. A. Berendsen
Factors controlling the Holocene avulsion history of the Rhine-Meuse Delta (the Netherlands)
Journal of Sedimentary Research (September 2000) 70 (5): 1051-1064


The avulsion history of the Holocene Rhine-Meuse delta (The Netherlands) was reconstructed, on a timescale of millenia, using detailed paleogeographic maps based on approximately 200,000 lithological borehole descriptions, over 1150 (super 14) C ages, and 36,000 archaeological artifacts. Gradient lines were constructed for all channel belts. These allowed determination of gradients, paleo-flow direction, relative age of channel belts, and time correlation of undated channel-belt fragments. Avulsion sites were inferred from the paleogeographic reconstruction. At least 91 avulsions occurred over the past 10,000 years, of which 82 could be dated with an accuracy of plus or minus 200 (super 14) C years. The location and shifting of Holocene avulsion sites in the Rhine-Meuse delta in space and time are related to: (1) Relative sealevel rise. In the Early Holocene, avulsions could not take place, because rivers were still incised. Around 7500 yr BP, avulsions occurred in the western part of the present delta as a result of backfilling of the Late Weichselian valley. Between 7500 and 3700 yr BP, the zone where avulsions occurred shifted inland as a result of relative sealevel rise. (2) Neotectonics. Between 4900 and 1700 yr BP, the location of avulsion sites seems to have been influenced by neotectonic movements of the upthrown Peel Horst. Four out of six avulsion nodes in the Rhine-Meuse delta were located in the Peel Horst fault zones. (3) Increased discharge and/or within-channel sedimentation. From 2800 until about 1500 yr BP, avulsion sites were located all over the delta. During this time, the number of channels was high, and avulsion frequency reached a maximum, at a time when aggradation rate decreased with a reduction in the rate of sealevel rise. After 2000 yr BP meander wavelength of alluvial channels increased considerably. The increased meander wavelength and the high avulsion frequency are attributed to increased bankfull discharge or within-channel sedimentation (leading to channel widening), or both. (4) Human influence. Between 1000 and 650 yr BP, all the rivers were embanked, and avulsions could no longer take place. The few that occurred were induced by humans.

ISSN: 1527-1404
EISSN: 1938-3681
Serial Title: Journal of Sedimentary Research
Serial Volume: 70
Serial Issue: 5
Title: Factors controlling the Holocene avulsion history of the Rhine-Meuse Delta (the Netherlands)
Affiliation: Utrecht University, Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht, Netherlands
Pages: 1051-1064
Published: 200009
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 62
Accession Number: 2001-013560
Categories: Quaternary geologyGeochronology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, sketch maps
N52°00'00" - N52°00'00", E05°00'00" - E05°00'00"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), Tulsa, OK, United States
Update Code: 200105
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