Abstract

In June 1982, a storm with a return period greater than 100 yr, but lasting less than 2.5 hr, destabilized hillslopes and produced a suite of geomorphologically and sedimentologically diverse alluvial fans. Thirteen major fans were deposited at the tributary junctions between small (<1.0 km2) catchments and two north-flowing; headwater streams of the River Lune, northwest England. Storm-generated fans spread over or became inset into older stable fans and produced localized vertical accretion of as much as 3 m and lateral accretion of as much as 100 m. Sedimentary processes operating during deposition involved debris flow, transitional flow, and streamflow. Six facies types are recognized on the basis of depositional topography, sedimentary texture and fabric, and matrix content: viscous debris flow (D1), dilute debris flow (D2), transitional flow (T1), fluvial bars and lobes (S1, S2), and fluvial sheet gravels (S3). Regionally, streamflow deposition prevails over debris-flow deposition, and type S3 facies has the greatest areal extent. Temporal and spatial variations in facies deposition during the storm, however, resulted from water:sediment ratio variations. Fan deposition involved an early phase of debris flow to transitional flow due to large inputs of sediment from hillslope failures. This was followed by a systematic change to more dilute conditions, resulting in streamflow deposition and eventually in channel incision. A significant amount of geomorphic work and complex variations in sedimentary processes during the storm resulted, in part, from extensive overland flow and hillslope destabilization. Discriminant analyses indicate that catchment size, channel gradient, and percentage of area eroded during the storm controlled whether debris-flow or streamflow facies dominated a fan sequence. Smaller, steeper catchments had a greater percentage of the area yielding sediment and are dominanted by debris flows, whereas larger catchments produced more runoff resulting in dilution and streamflow. The results indicate that the facies sequences and fan entrenchment in the Howgill Fells, which are typically considered products of longer term climatic change or tectonics in other localities, are here primarily affected by thresholds related to catchment geomorphology, by the type of sediment available, and by the position within the storm cell.

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