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Palaeoflood and floodplain records from Spain: Evidence for long-term climate variability and environmental changes

AuthorsBenito, Gerardo ; Thorndycraft, V. R.; Rico, María Teresa ; Sánchez Moya, Yolanda ; Sopeña, Alfonso
Slackwater flood deposits
Floodplain alluviation
Fluvial geomorphology
Issue DateOct-2008
CitationGeomorphology, 101, 68–77.
AbstractPalaeoflood chronologies from seven Spanish river basins and floodplain aggradation chronologies from thirteen rivers are analysed. These fluvial records were divided in to two sub-sets, namely Atlantic (10 ka record) and Mediterranean (3 ka record) river basins, which represent distinct modern hydroclimatic conditions. In Atlantic basins floods result from intense, widespread rainfalls associated with Atlantic frontal systems transported by westerly airflow. Mediterranean river flooding is related to heavy rainfall induced by mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) during autumn months. Evidence from radiocarbon dates in slackwater flood deposits shows six periods of flood clusters at 10,750–10,240; 9550–9130; 4820–4440; 2865–2350; 960–790; and 520–290 cal BP. Despite the different flood-producing weather conditions in Atlantic and Mediterranean rivers, the radiocarbon sample clusters overlap and indicate changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation and climatic conditions in the Iberian Peninsula. Comparison with proxy records of mean temperature for the Northern Hemisphere demonstrates a relationship between the period of slackwater flood deposition and cold climatic phases (e.g. the 2650 yr BP climatic event or AD 1590–1650 period of the Little Ice Age). Radiocarbon dates from aggraded floodplain sediments were clustered at 2710–2320, 2000–1830, and 910–500 cal BP. The first cluster period is in phase with the timing of slackwater deposition, whereas the third (910–500 cal BP) occurs in between two periods of increased flood frequency as indicated by the palaeoflood and documentary flood records. It is argued that the 910–500 cal BP floodplain aggradation period reflects the first post-Roman evidence of environmental change related to generalised land-use changes at the catchment scale, which produced high sediment load transported to overbank areas during high flows.
Description10 páginas, 5 figuras, 1 tabla.-- El PDF del artículo es la versión manuscrita del autor.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2008.05.020
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