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Human-caused avulsion in the Rhine-Meuse Delta before historic embankment (the Netherlands)

Harm Jan Pierik, Esther Stouthamer, Tim Schuring and Kim M. Cohen
Human-caused avulsion in the Rhine-Meuse Delta before historic embankment (the Netherlands)
Geology (Boulder) (September 2018) 46 (11): 935-938

Abstract

Although the shifting of deltaic river branches (avulsion) is a natural process that has become increasingly influenced by humans, the impact of early human activities as a driver of avulsion success has remained poorly explored. This study demonstrates how two important avulsions in the downstream part of the Rhine-Meuse delta, The Netherlands, were stimulated by human activities in the first millennium CE, before historic embankment constrained the river courses. Peatland reclamation induced land subsidence in the lower delta. This effect, together with a human-induced increase in suspended fluvial sediments and tidal backwater effects, allowed for a gradual ingression of tidal creek channels and progradation of fluvial crevasse channels into human-occupied and drained peatlands, where they eventually connected. We reconstructed the initial situation and identified the feedback loops among overbank sedimentation, tidal incursion, and land drainage subsidence that led to avulsion success. The processes and feedbacks resulting from human activities are generic and hence relevant to many other deltas today where human-induced subsidence results in tidal ingression, potentially connecting to rivers and causing unexpected avulsions.


ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Coden: GLGYBA
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 46
Serial Issue: 11
Title: Human-caused avulsion in the Rhine-Meuse Delta before historic embankment (the Netherlands)
Affiliation: Utrecht University, Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht, Netherlands
Pages: 935-938
Published: 20180925
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
Accession Number: 2018-080177
Categories: GeomorphologyGeochronology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2018348
Illustration Description: illus. incl. geol. sketch maps
N51°00'00" - N52°00'00", E03°19'60" - E05°00'00"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201844
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