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Assessment of timescales of sediment discharge in selected Alpine catchments

English title Assessment of timescales of sediment discharge in selected Alpine catchments
Applicant Schlunegger Fritz
Number 140218
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Geologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.05.2012 - 28.02.2013
Approved amount 56'725.00
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Keywords (5)

Dendrogeomorphology; Alpine topography; Hillslope-Channel Connectivity; Surface Erosion; 10Be-based erosion rates

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

The response of the sediment routing system to the sculpting of the Alpine landscape during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) has been a major scope in the geomorphic community recently. We address this topic by analyzing patterns and rates of sediment transfer in two study catchments located on both sides of the Alps (the 2.5 km2-large Schimbrig catchment in Switzerland, and the 40 km2-large Zielbach drainage basin in Italy). Both sites are characterized by transient geomorphic features related to LGM glaciations. In these basins, we aim to quantify the timescales of the hillslope-channel coupling relationship in order to understand how differences in this parameter have controlled the mechanisms and the rates of sediment transfer in these basins. At Schimbrig where sediment transport has occurred through landsliding, debris flows and floods, we quantify geomorphic timescales with dendrogeomorphic data collected from more than 500 trees. The preliminary results indicate that the hillslope-channel coupling mechanisms have operated at decadal and centennial time scales, but that processes in the channel network are not implicitly related to those on the hillslopes over shorter time spans. In a second and third task, we measure the variability of 10Be concentrations of stream, soil and debris flow samples in a formerly glaciated drainage basin (Zielbach, Südtirol, Italy). In this basin, erosion and sediment transfer has been accomplished by either supply-limited fluvial or transport-limited debris flow processes. Based on our preliminary results, we find a large variability of sediment transfer rates in the debris flow dominated catchments, but a nearly uniform pattern of 10Be concentrations in the supply-limited network of bedrock channels. We proceed by completing the following tasks. (i)  measure 10Be concentrations of the last six samples, and (ii) analyze and interpret the 10Be dataset. In particular, we recently had the unique opportunity to sample a 30 m-long core for both 10Be analyses of riverine quartz, and 14C dating of paleo-floodplains, allowing us to trace the variability of 10Be concentrations and related debris flow transfer rates back in time since. We anticipate that the quantitative assessment of the mechanisms, the rates and the timescales of sediment transfer in the study catchments will advance our understanding of how the glacial inheritance has imprinted on the Holocene development of a sensitive Alpine landscape.


Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Alpine sedimentology: An introduction and tribute to Albert Matter and Daniel Bernoulli
Föllmi K.B., Schlunegger F., Weissert H. (2013), Alpine sedimentology: An introduction and tribute to Albert Matter and Daniel Bernoulli, in Sedimentology, 60, 1-18.
Alpine sedimentology: An introduction and tribute to Albert Matter and Daniel Bernoulli
Föllmi K. Schlunegger F. Weissert H. (2013), Alpine sedimentology: An introduction and tribute to Albert Matter and Daniel Bernoulli, in Sedimentology, 60, 1-18.
Headward retreat of streams in the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene Swiss Alps
Schlunegger F., Norton K.P. (2013), Headward retreat of streams in the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene Swiss Alps, in Sedimentology, 60, 85-101.
Headward retreat of streams in the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene Swiss Alps
Schlunegger F. Norton K.P. (2013), Headward retreat of streams in the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene Swiss Alps, in Sedimentology, 60, 85-101.
Lateral sediment sources and knickzones as controls on spatio-temporal variations of sediment transport in an Alpine river
Bekaddour T., Schlunegger F., Attal M., Norton K.P. (2013), Lateral sediment sources and knickzones as controls on spatio-temporal variations of sediment transport in an Alpine river, in Sedimentology, 60, 342-357.
River loads and modern denudation of the Alps — A review
MatthiHinderer M. Kastowski M. Kamelger A. Bartolini C. Schlunegger F. (2013), River loads and modern denudation of the Alps — A review, in Earth-Science Reviews, 118, 11-44.
Exploring fading in single grain feldspar IRSL measurements
Trauerstein M., Lowick S., Preusser F., Rufer D., Schlunegger F. (2012), Exploring fading in single grain feldspar IRSL measurements, in Quaternary Geochronology, 10, 327-333.
Effects of sediment mixing on 10Be concentrations in the Zielbach catchment, central-eastern Italian Alps
S. Savi K. Norton V. Picotti F. Brardinoni N. Akçar P.W. Kubik R. Delunel F. Schlunegger, Effects of sediment mixing on 10Be concentrations in the Zielbach catchment, central-eastern Italian Alps, in Quaternary Geochronology.
Geomorphic coupling between hillslopes and channels in the Swiss Alps
Savi S. Schneuwly-Bollschweiler M. Bommer-Denns B. Stoffel M. Schlunegger F., Geomorphic coupling between hillslopes and channels in the Swiss Alps, in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Vincenzo Picotti, Uni Bologna Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Francesco Brardinoni, Uni Milano-Bicocca Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Naki Akçar, UniBern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Peter Kubik, ETHZ Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Markus Stoffel, UniBern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Kevin Norton New Zealand (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Michelle Schneuwyl, UniBern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
120464 SedyMONT - Assessment of timescales of sediment discharge in selected sites of the Swiss Alps (Illgraben, Rotenbach, Erlenbach) (IP1) 01.05.2009 Project funding (special)
147689 SEDFATE:Sediment fate in a changing watershed during the Anthropocene 01.02.2014 Sinergia

Abstract

The response of the sediment routing system to the sculpting of the Alpine landscape during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) has been a major scope in the geomorphic community recently. We address this topic by analyzing patterns and rates of sediment transfer in two study catchments located on both sides of the Alps (the 2.5 km2-large Schimbrig catchment in Switzerland, and the 40 km2-large Zielbach drainage basin in Italy). Both sites are characterized by transient geomorphic features related to LGM glaciations. In these basins, we aim to quantify the timescales of the hillslope-channel coupling relationship in order to understand how differences in this parameter have controlled the mechanisms and the rates of sediment transfer in these basins. At Schimbrig where sediment transport has occurred through landsliding, debris flows and floods, we quantify geomorphic timescales with dendrogeomorphic data collected from more than 500 trees. The preliminary results indicate that the hillslope-channel coupling mechanisms have operated at decadal and centennial time scales, but that processes in the channel network are not implicitly related to those on the hillslopes over shorter time spans. In a second and third task, we measure the variability of 10Be concentrations of stream, soil and debris flow samples in a formerly glaciated drainage basin (Zielbach, Südtirol, Italy). In this basin, erosion and sediment transfer has been accomplished by either supply-limited fluvial or transport-limited debris flow processes. Based on our preliminary results, we find a large variability of sediment transfer rates in the debris flow dominated catchments, but a nearly uniform pattern of 10Be concentrations in the supply-limited network of bedrock channels. We need resources to (i) complete the measurements of 10Be concentrations of the last six samples, (ii) analyze and interpret the 10Be dataset, and (iii) to write the last paper and to finalize the PhD project of S. Savi. In particular, we recently had the unique opportunity to sample a 30 m-long core for both 10Be analyses of riverine quartz, and 14C dating of paleo-floodplains, allowing us to trace the variability of 10Be concentrations and related debris flow transfer rates back in time since. We anticipate that the quantitative assessment of the mechanisms, the rates and the timescales of sediment transfer in the study catchments will advance our understanding of how the glacial inheritance has imprinted on the Holocene development of a sensitive Alpine landscape.
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