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Quantification of surface erosion at the northern foothills of the Alps of central Switzerland and identification of potential controls

English title Quantification of surface erosion at the northern foothills of the Alps of central Switzerland and identification of potential controls
Applicant Schlunegger Fritz
Number 119785
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Geologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Geomorphology
Start/End 01.04.2008 - 31.12.2011
Approved amount 53'270.00
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Keywords (6)

Surface Processes; Surfac Erosion; Cosmogenic Nuclides; Morphometric Modeling; Swiss Alps; Surface Erosion

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
This project is designed to explore how variations in the intrinsic properties of the landscape (e.g., litho-tectonic architecture of the underlying bedrock, and inherited morphologic properties of the landscape after retreat of the LGM glaciers) have influenced denudation rates and the relative importance of sediment transport on hillslopes and in channels. We also intend to quantify the modification of sediment discharge at the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary when climate conditions changed from glacial to modern humid conditions. Research will focus on the 324 km2-large Waldemme drainage basin located near Lucerne (Central Switzerland). This area is characterized by contrasting lithological boundary conditions that have resulted in supply- and transport-limited sediment discharge of the tributaries. In addition, the Alpine border near Lucerne has preserved multiple terraces that formed in response to the palaeo-climate change at the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary. We propose to assess modern and palaeo-denudation rates by measuring concentrations of the radionuclide 10Be for river born sands, and for medium-grained sand deposited in the post-glacial terraces. In addition, we will analyze the petrographic composition of the gravels and boulders (clast counting method) and of fine- to medium-grained sand (microscopic analysis) at the sites where 10Be samples will be taken. We intend to explore how sediment supply from different hinterlands with presumably contrasting denudation rates has altered the petrographic composition of the trunk stream. We also intend to measure the Sr isotopic composition of the dissolved and suspended river loads in order to support the inferred relative proportions of the eroded lithologies. In a final step, we will extract morphometric properties from 1-m DEMs (steepness and concavitiy of channels and hillslopes) in order to identify the nature and the relevant spatial scales for surface erosion and sediment transport.
The significance of the project lies in the quantitative assessment of (i) how the litho-tectonic architecture of the bedrock and the morphometric inheritance has influenced surface erosion, and of (ii) how surface erosion rates were altered when palaeoclimate changed from glacial to modern humid conditions at the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary. The expected results will also be significant for watershed management and urban planning because we will deliver data about process rates that are relevant for human time scales.
The project is designed for one PhD student. The salary will be offered by the University of Bern. Funds are needed for the geochemical analysis, for field work and for presentation at conferences as well as scientific exchange with project partners.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
10Be-derived assessement of accelerated erosion in a glacially conditioned inner gorge, Entlebuch, Central Alps of Switzerland
Fabien van den Berg Fritz Schlunegger Naki Akçar Peter Kubik, 10Be-derived assessement of accelerated erosion in a glacially conditioned inner gorge, Entlebuch, Central Alps of Switzerland, in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.
Alluvial cover dynamics in response to floods of various magnitudes: The effect of the release of glaciogenic material in a Swiss Alpine catchment
Fabien Van den Berg Fritz Schlunegger, Alluvial cover dynamics in response to floods of various magnitudes: The effect of the release of glaciogenic material in a Swiss Alpine catchment, in Geomorpholoy.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Univ. Bern; Rafael Caduff Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Swisstopo Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Univ. Bern; Kevin Norton Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Univ. Bern; Fabien van den Berg Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
GAMMA Remote Sensing AG Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
ETZ Zürich; Peter Kubik Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Univ. Bern, Klima- und Umweltphysik Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Univ. Bern; Naki Akçar Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
GeoGr, Chur Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126408 Glacial Carving versus Tectonic Forcing. Documenting their Relative Contribution to Relief Formation 01.10.2009 Ambizione
137516 Chronology of surface erosion in the western Peruvian Andes in response to climate variations: Calibration by OSL dating and multiple cosmogenic nuclide analyses 01.01.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)
143165 Glacial Carving versus Tectonic Forcing. Documenting their Relative Contribution to Relief Formation 01.10.2012 Ambizione
147689 SEDFATE:Sediment fate in a changing watershed during the Anthropocene 01.02.2014 Sinergia

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