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See detailFluvial architecture of Belgian river systems in contrasting environments:implications for reconstructing the sedimentation history
Notebaert, Bastiaan; Houbrechts, Geoffrey ULg; Verstraeten, G. et al

in Netherlands Journal of Geosciences - Geologie en Mijnbouw (2011), 90(1), 31-50

Accurate dating is necessary to get insight in the temporal variations in sediment deposition in floodplains. The interpretation of such dates is however dependent on the fluvial architecture of the ... [more ▼]

Accurate dating is necessary to get insight in the temporal variations in sediment deposition in floodplains. The interpretation of such dates is however dependent on the fluvial architecture of the floodplain. In this study we discuss the fluvial architecture of three contrasting Belgian catchments (Dijle, Geul and Amblève catchment) and how this influences the dating possibilities of net floodplain sediment storage. Although vertical aggradation occurred in all three floodplains during the last part of the Holocene, they differ in the importance of lateral accretion and vertical aggradation during the entire Holocene. Holocene floodplain aggradation is the dominant process in the Dijle catchment. Lateral reworking of the floodplain sediments by river meandering was limited to a part of the floodplain, resulting in stacked point bar deposits. The fluvial architecture allows identifying vertical aggradation without erosional hiatuses. Results show that trends in vertical floodplain aggradation in the Dijle catchment are mainly related to land use changes. In the other two catchments, lateral reworking was the dominant process, and channel lag and point bar deposits occur over the entire floodplain width. Here, tracers were used to date the sediment dynamics: lead from metal mining in the Geul and iron slag from ironworks in the Amblève catchment. These methods allow the identification of two or three discrete periods, but their spatial extent and variations is identified in a continuous way. The fluvial architecture and the limitation in dating with tracers hampered the identification of dominant environmental changes for sediment dynamics in both catchments. Dating methods which provide only discrete point information, like radiocarbon or OSL dating, are best suited for fluvial systems which contain continuous aggradation profiles. Spatially more continuous dating methods, e.g. through the use of tracers, allow to reconstruct past surfaces and allow to reconstruct reworked parts of the floodplain. As such they allow a better reconstruction of past sedimentation rates in systems with important lateral reworking. [less ▲]

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