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The impact of late Holocene climatic variability and land use change on the flood hydrology of the Guadalentín River, southeast Spain

AutorBenito, Gerardo ; Rico, María Teresa ; Sánchez Moya, Yolanda ; Sopeña, Alfonso ; Thorndycraft, V. R.; Barriendos, M.
Palabras clavePalaeoflood hydrology
Documentary records
Little Ice Age
Environmental change
Southeast Spain
Fecha de publicación1-feb-2010
CitaciónGlobal and Planetary Change 70: 53-63 (2010)
ResumenThe Guadalentín River, located in southeast Spain, is considered one of the most torrential rivers in Spain, as indicated by catastrophic events such as the 1879 flood that caused 777 fatalities in the Murcia region. In this paper, flood frequency and magnitude of the upper Guadalentín River were reconstructed using geomorphological evidence, combined with one-dimensional hydraulic modelling and supported by records from documentary sources at Lorca in the lower Guadalentín catchment. Palaeoflood studies were conducted along a 2.5-km reach located at the confluence of the Rambla Mayor (162 km2) and Caramel River (210 km2). These tributaries join at the entrance of a narrow bedrock canyon, carved in Cretaceous limestone, which is 15–30 m wide and 40 m deep. Six stratigraphic profiles were described, the thickest and most complete corresponding to flood benches deposited upstream of the canyon constriction. The stratigraphic and documentary records identify five main phases of increased flood frequency. Phase 1, based on sedimentary palaeoflood evidence alone, occurred at c. AD 950–1200 with at least ten floods with minimum discharge estimates of 15–580 m3 s−1. Phases 2–5, identified through combined sedimentary and documentary evidence occurred at: (a) AD 1648–1672, with eight documentary floods and two palaeofloods exceeding 580–680 m3 s−1 (most probably the AD 1651 and 1653 events); (b) AD 1769–1802, comprising seven documentary floods, of which at least two events (N250 m3 s−1) are preserved in the sedimentary record; (c) AD 1830–1840, with four documentary floods, and at least two events recorded in the stratigraphy (760–1035 m3 s−1); and finally (d) the AD 1877–1900 period that witnessed seven documentary floods, with three palaeofloods exceeding 880 m3 s−1. The palaeoflood and historical flood information indicate an anomalous increase in the frequency of large magnitude floods between AD 1830 and 1900, which can be attributed to climatic variability accentuated by intensive deforestation and land use practices during the first decades of the nineteenth century.
Descripción11 pages, figures, photos, and tables stastics.-- El PDF del artículo esta en su versión post-print.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2009.11.007
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