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Badland dynamics in the Central Pyrenees: temporal and spatial patterns of weathering processes

AuthorsNadal-Romero, Estela CSIC ORCID ; Regüés-Muñoz, D. CSIC ; Martí Bono, Carlos Enrique CSIC; Serrano Muela, M. P. CSIC
Central Pyrenees
Issue DateMay-2007
CitationEarth Surface Processes and Landforms 32(6): 888-904 (2007)
AbstractThe genesis and development of badlands is controlled by bedrock lithology, topography and climate. The development of badlands in the Central Spanish Pyrenees is favoured by the presence of marls and a climate with a marked seasonality; the combination of these factors results in active hydrosedimentological processes. The aim of the present work was to study the dynamics of badlands in the Central Pyrenees, with a focus on the temporal and spatial patterns of the dominant weathering processes. The study area was a small mountain catchment, and we focussed on the continuous observation of a number of physical parameters that control regolith development and weathering processes. Samples collected from different depths at sites with different aspects enabled temporal comparisons of the factors involved in the development of surface regolith that can be considered as indicators of the weathering of the marls. These indicators were then related to environmental variables (moisture and temperature). Atterberg limits were established and related to moisture content to explain slope dynamics and related processes. Finally, analyses of carbonate content were performed in the laboratory. The results validate the employed methodology, supporting our description of weathering processes, the established chronological sequence and the relation of these processes to climatic and topographic parameters. The results obtained since January 2004 show that the chosen indicators are sensitive to seasonal dynamics, variations in temperature and water supply, and slope aspect. The development and dynamics of regolith on north-facing slopes is more active than that on south-facing slopes. Freeze–thaw is the main weathering process on north-facing slopes, while south-facing slopes are dominated by the development of crusts associated with wetting–drying processes. Washing effects and lower temperatures upon north-facing slopes mean that the dissolution of carbonates is more pronounced in such areas compared with south-facing slopes, especially within the upper layers of the regolith.
Description17 páginas, 8 figuras, 5 tablas.
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