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Quantifying human impact and recent climate change using clastic sediments from lacustrine records in Western Switzerland (Phase 2)

English title Quantifying human impact and recent climate change using clastic sediments from lacustrine records in Western Switzerland (Phase 2)
Applicant Girardclos Stéphanie
Number 146889
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département des sciences de la Terre Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.06.2013 - 31.05.2014
Approved amount 68'600.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Geology
Geophysics

Keywords (11)

extreme precipitations; Holocene; paleoclimatology; sublacustrine mass movement; human impact; flood; lake sediment; seismic stratigraphy; environmental change; turbidite; tsunami

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Depuis leur formation à la fin de la dernière glaciation, les lacs Léman et de Bienne ont évolué selon les variations du climat. Mais dès la fin du 19ème siècle, les grands lacs et rivières de Suisse ont été massivement modifiés dans le but de réguler les crues et de servir l’agriculture et la production d’hydroélectricité. Les changements de régime hydrologique induits par ces modifications sont connus, mais les connaissances sur les conséquences sédimentaires sont encore très lacunaires.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs de travail de recherche

La première phase de notre recherche a permis d’identifier plusieurs événements sédimentologiques dans le Lac Léman, dont le plus important a généré en l’an 563 une vague de tsunami d’une hauteur maximum de 8-12 m à Lausanne et à Genève. Cette étude a aussi montré que la construction des barrages dans le bassin versant de l’Aar a diminué le transfert de sédiments fins vers le lac de Bienne et que les apports en plomb (métal lourd) par l’Aar ont été maximum entre 1940 et 1970.

Le principal objectif de la deuxième phase de cette recherche est de finir le catalogue des grands événements géologiques et de crue du lac Léman pour les derniers 3000 ans et de contribuer à établir leur fréquence, ainsi qu’un possible lien avec les variations du climat. Dans le lac de Bienne, il s’agira d’analyser les conséquences sédimentologiques de la déviation de l’Aar en 1878 pour reconstruire l’impact qu’elle a eu sur le système aquatique.

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

Notre travail générera des informations inédites sur l’histoire des grands lacs peri-alpins (ici Léman et Bienne) et leurs rivières (ici Rhône et Aar) de Suisse et leur interaction avec la société humaine. Les résultats anticipés pourront améliorer les connaissances dans le champ des risques géologiques (fréquence des tsunamis et des tremblements de terre) et hydrologiques (crues) et ainsi contribuer à conseiller le monde politique pour une meilleure sécurité des habitants face aux risques naturels. Les résultats anticipés devraient aussi permettre de mieux comprendre les interactions entre la société et les grands systèmes lacustres, et ainsi contribuer à une amélioration de la pesée des intérêts dans les prises de décision sur la gestion environnementale en Suisse.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 17.04.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Changes in distal sedimentation regime of the Rhone delta system controlled by subaquatic channels (Lake Geneva, Switzerland/France)
Kremer Katrina, Corella Juan Pablo, Hilbe Michael, Marillier François, Dupuy David, Zenhäusern Gregor, Girardclos Stéphanie (2015), Changes in distal sedimentation regime of the Rhone delta system controlled by subaquatic channels (Lake Geneva, Switzerland/France), in Marine Geology, 370, 125-135.
Origin of turbidites in deep Lake Geneva (France–Switzerland) in the last 1500 years
Kremer Katrina, Corella Juan Pablo, Adatte Thierry, Garnier Emmanuel, Zenhäusern Gregor, Girardclos Stéphanie (2015), Origin of turbidites in deep Lake Geneva (France–Switzerland) in the last 1500 years, in Journal of Sedimentary Research, 85(12), 1455-1465.
Reconstructing 4000 years of mass movement and tsunami history in a deep peri-Alpine lake (Lake Geneva, France-Switzerland)
Kremer Katrina, Hilbe Michael, Simpson Guy, Decrouy Laurent, Wildi Walter, Girardclos Stéphanie (2015), Reconstructing 4000 years of mass movement and tsunami history in a deep peri-Alpine lake (Lake Geneva, France-Switzerland), in Sedimentology, 62(5), 1305-1327.
Etude des sédiments lacustres. L'impact des activités humaines sur la qualité des ressources naturelles en eau.
Thevenon F., Poté J., Girardclos S., Adatte T., de Alencastro L.F. (2014), Etude des sédiments lacustres. L'impact des activités humaines sur la qualité des ressources naturelles en eau., in Aqua & Gas, 3, 22-31.
Lake dwellers occupation gap in Lake Geneva (France-Switzerland) possibly explained by an earthquake – mass movement – tsunami event during Early Bronze Age
Kremer Katrina, Marillier François, Hilbe Michael, Simpson Guy, Dupuy David, Yrro BleJ.F., Rachoud-Schneider Anne-Marie, Corboud Pierre, Bellwald Benjamin, Wildi Walter, Girardclos Stéphanie (2014), Lake dwellers occupation gap in Lake Geneva (France-Switzerland) possibly explained by an earthquake – mass movement – tsunami event during Early Bronze Age, in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 385, 28-39.
Lake Neuchatel (Switzerland) seismic stratigraphic record points to the simultaneous Wurmian deglaciation of the Rhone Glacier and Jura Ice Cap
Ndiaye Matar, Clerc Nicolas, Gorin Georges, Girardclos Stephanie, Fiore Julien (2014), Lake Neuchatel (Switzerland) seismic stratigraphic record points to the simultaneous Wurmian deglaciation of the Rhone Glacier and Jura Ice Cap, in Quaternary Science Reviews, 85, 1-19.
Endospore-forming bacteria as new proxies to assess impact of eutrophication in Lake Geneva (Switzerland-France)
Wunderlin Tina, Corella Juan Pablo, Junier Thomas, Bueche Matthieu, Loizeau Jean Luc, Girardclos Stéphanie, Junier Pilar (2013), Endospore-forming bacteria as new proxies to assess impact of eutrophication in Lake Geneva (Switzerland-France), in Aquatic Sciences, 76(S1), 103-116.
Human impact on the transport of terrigenous and anthropogenic elements to peri-alpine lakes (Switzerland) over the last decades
Thevenon Florian, Wirth Stefanie B., Fujak Marian, Pote John, Girardclos Stephanie (2013), Human impact on the transport of terrigenous and anthropogenic elements to peri-alpine lakes (Switzerland) over the last decades, in AQUATIC SCIENCES, 75(3), 413-424.
Sediment dynamics in the subaquatic channel of the Rhone delta (Lake Geneva, France/Switzerland)
Corella Juan Pablo, Arantegui Angel, Loizeau Jean Luc, Delsontro Tonya, Le Dantec N., Stark Nina, Anselmetti Flavio S., Girardclos Stéphanie (2013), Sediment dynamics in the subaquatic channel of the Rhone delta (Lake Geneva, France/Switzerland), in Aquatic Sciences, 76(S1), 73-87.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN/CSIC), Spain Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Institut Forel /University of Geneva Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Geological Institute and Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics/ ETH Zurich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Laboratoire d'archéologie préhistorique et anthropologie / University of Geneva Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
EPFL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Musée et Jardins botaniques cantonaux, Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Environnement, DYnamiques et TErritoire de la Montagne (EDYTEM) / University of Savoie France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Laboratory of Microbiology, University of Neuchâtel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Research Centre in Terrestrial Environment, University of Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
EGU meeting Poster Were Holocene large slumps in Lake Geneva off the city of Lausanne caused by fault activity? 28.04.2014 Vienna, Austria Kremer Katrina; Girardclos Stéphanie;
EGU meeting Poster The history of Cesium-137 liquid emissions by Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant (Switzerland) is recorded in Lake Biel sediments. 28.04.2014 Vienna, Austria Girardclos Stéphanie;
EGU meeting Talk given at a conference Lake Biel Holocene sediment record before and after the Aare river deviation (1878 AD). 28.04.2014 Vienna, Austria Girardclos Stéphanie; Kremer Katrina;
Mentoring Lecture Series by nowaGEA, University of Vienna Individual talk Lake sediments as archives of environmental changes and catastrophic events. 18.03.2014 Vienna, Austria Girardclos Stéphanie;
Lunch Seminars ISE University of Geneva Individual talk Environmental and geological events reconstructed from lake sediments 18.12.2013 Geneva, Switzerland Girardclos Stéphanie;
11th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Poster Large mass wasting deposits in Lake Geneva off the city of Lausanne revealed by detailed reflection seismic data. 16.11.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland Kremer Katrina; Girardclos Stéphanie;
11th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference Radionuclide fluxes in Lake Biel sediments (1955-2010) and Mühleberg NPP 137Cs liquid emissions. 16.11.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland Girardclos Stéphanie;
11th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference Under water landscapes - The last frontier of geomorphologic explorations. 16.11.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland Kremer Katrina; Girardclos Stéphanie;
6th International Symposium on Submarine Mass Movements and Their Consequences (ISSMMTC) Talk given at a conference Catalogue of mass movement deposits in Lake Geneva since 3600 cal BP 23.09.2013 Kiel, Germany Kremer Katrina;
Workshop “Future Directions for Research on Submarine Sediment Flows” Talk given at a conference What is shaping Rhone delta channel in Lake Geneva ? 11.09.2013 Santa Sofia, Italy Girardclos Stéphanie;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media A l'âge du bronze, les riverains du Léman ont subi un violent tsunami Tribune de Genève Western Switzerland 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Preparing for the next Swiss tsunami Le News International 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Deux tsunamis ont bouleversé la physionomie du Léman Le Dauphiné Western Switzerland International 2013
Talks/events/exhibitions Deux tsunamis révélés par les sédiments du lac Léman Western Switzerland 2013
Talks/events/exhibitions Histoire d'un tsunami dans le Léman Western Switzerland 2013
Media relations: print media, online media La surveillance des vidanges de Mühleberg a de graves failles Le Matin Dimanche Western Switzerland 2013
Media relations: print media, online media Le Léman théâtre d’un gigantesque raz-de-marée Le Journal n.83 Western Switzerland 2013
Media relations: print media, online media Un tsunami a ravage les rives du Léman à l’âge du Bronze Campus n.115 Western Switzerland 2013
Media relations: print media, online media Zufallsfund: Radioaktives Cäsium am Grund des Bielersees SonntagsZeitung German-speaking Switzerland 2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
133481 DYNAMITE: Dynamic Nankai Trough (Japan) and Swiss Molasse Basin: Investigating NeoTectonics, Paleo-Earthquakes and associated Geohazards 01.10.2011 SNSF Professorships
137930 FloodAlp! Frequency and intensity of extreme floods in the Alps through the Holocene and implications for natural hazards in future climate scenarios 01.12.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
154263 'Pump priming' a historical database of extreme natural events in Lake Geneva region 01.02.2014 International short research visits
121666 Quantifying human impact and recent climate change using clastic sediments from lacustrine records in western Switzerland 01.02.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)
121909 FloodAlp! Frequency and intensity of extreme floods in the Alps through the Holocene and implications for natural hazards in future climate scenarios 01.12.2008 Project funding (Div. I-III)
133790 A multibeam-bathymetric device to acquire high-resolution lake floor morphologic data 01.08.2011 R'EQUIP

Abstract

From the mid-19th century, when the Northern Hemisphere climate ended a phase of cool temperatures (‘Little Ice Age’) and alpine glaciers started to retreat, most river systems in Switzerland were heavily modified by humans to artificially regulate lake-levels and river flows, with the aim to reduce flooding hazard. Overall, these infrastructures reached their goal but during the past two decades catastrophic floods occurred on a regular basis, bringing new questions on the frequency and magnitude of these events, as well as their related sedimentary processes. Lake sediments are genuine archives of human- or climate-induced environmental changes at local and regional scale. The study of lacustrine records allows the detailed reconstruction of these past changes and events.The initial phase of this research project in Lake Geneva revealed numerous large turbidites and mass movement deposits in its deepest basin. The youngest event layer, a co-genetic debrite-turbidite, is dated to the collapse of the Rhône delta due to the Tauredunum rockfall in 563 AD and generated a tsunami wave with 8 m high wave reaching Geneva in 70-80 minutes, as shown by numerical simulations and historical records (Kremer et al., 2012). In Lake Biel, the recent sediment record (1850-2010) didn’t record floods as specific clastic clayers. Instead, it revealed the history of human impact on natural and anthropogenic trace element fluxes in the Aare river catchment, with highest lead enrichment factors due to pollution happening between 1940 and 1970. The comparison of the natural lithogenic element flux with precipitation data suggests that sediment-trapping reservoirs significantly disrupted regional fluvial sediment supply (Thevenon et al., in press).In this proposal (phase 2), we plan to analyze the remaining ‘non mass movement-related’ sediment record of Lake Geneva to recognize flood layers from background hemi-pelagic sediment record and to identify sediment sources. The frequency and sedimentary characteristics of these beds will be linked to historical large flood events. Recent data will also be interpreted using available instrumental meteorological and hydrological records. Special attention will be given to comparison of flood deposit record before and after the regional Rhône river management was put in place, which will reveal how human-made modifications changed the river and lacustrine systems. In Lake Biel, we plan to complete the on-going research on (7000 years old) retrieved sediment sequence to reconstruct the longer-term past climatic and environmental changes of the Seeland region. The distinct human impact history of Lake Geneva and Lake Biel catchments, as well as their contrasted position (proximal vs. distal) in peri-alpine river systems, offers an excellent opportunity to compare and understand clastic sedimentology processes from similar climate and matching time scales.
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