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Earth surface signaling systems: natural and controlled experiments of tectonic and climatic extremes

Applicant Castelltort Sébastien
Number 146822
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Section des Sciences de la Terre et de l'environnement Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.01.2014 - 31.12.2017
Approved amount 421'645.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Geology
Other disciplines of Earth Sciences

Keywords (6)

Environmental signals; Landscape response; Drainage networks; Extreme climate; Fluvial systems; Tectonics

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Nous cherchons à comprendre les transformations de la surface terrestre en réponse à des perturbations extrêmes du climat et de la tectonique. Les deux laboratoires naturels choisis sont 1) le réchauffement global de 8°C il y a 55.5 million d’années à la limite paléocène-éocène, et 2) les mouvements horizontaux extrêmes de l’écorce terrestre en Nouvelle-Zélande. Des expériences de perturbations climatiques et tectoniques sur modèles réduits viennent en complément des deux cas d’étude.
Lay summary

Nos paysages sont l’expression d’une interaction subtile entre la dynamique interne de notre planète qui déplace les plaques tectoniques à sa surface et le climat qui est moteur de l’érosion. Bien que ces processus puissent nous sembler très lents et indécelables sur nos durées de vie, les changements de forme de la surface terrestre ont un impact énorme sur notre évolution en tant qu’espèce quand on les considère sur de plus grandes échelles de temps. Le projet « Earth Surface Signaling Systems » a pour objectif de comprendre les transformations de la surface sur laquelle nous vivons et évoluons.

Une façon d’aborder ce problème est de s’intéresser à certains moments de l’histoire de la Terre lors desquels des évènements climatiques ou tectoniques extrêmes ont laissé une empreinte que nous pouvons aujourd’hui. Une deuxième approche est de simuler ces perturbations en laboratoire.

Dans ce projet nous ciblons deux cas de changement climatique et tectonique extrêmes.

D’abord nous regardons comment les très grands mouvements horizontaux que subit l’écorce terrestre dans les Alpes du Sud de la Nouvelle-Zélande ont pu modifier l’organisation des rivières dans cette région. L’étude de ce cas réel sera complétée par des expérience de déformation et érosion en laboratoire. Nous cherchons à comprendre les conditions sous lesquelles un bassin fluvial va résister ou pas à des déformations tectoniques extrêmes. 

Deuxièmement, nous étudions les transformations qu’a subies la surface terrestre il y a 55.5 million d’années lorsque le climat global s’est brutalement réchauffé de jusqu’à 8°C. Cet évènement fournit une analogie intéressante avec le réchauffement climatique actuel et pose la question de la réponse des précipitations et des systèmes fluviatiles qui constitue le système nerveux de nos sociétés à ces changements de température. Nous étudions aussi en laboratoire la réponse de modèles réduits de rivières à des perturbations artificielles extrêmes.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 16.07.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Estimating regional flood discharge during Palaeocene-Eocene global warming
Chen Chen, Guerit Laure, Foreman Brady Z., Hassenruck-Gudipati Hima J., Adatte Thierry, Honegger Louis, Perret Marc, Sluijs Appy, Castelltort Sébastien (2018), Estimating regional flood discharge during Palaeocene-Eocene global warming, in Scientific Reports, 8(1), 13391-13391.
Landscape ”stress” and reorganization from χ-maps: insights from experimental drainage networks in oblique collision
Laure Guerit (2018), Landscape ”stress” and reorganization from χ-maps: insights from experimental drainage networks in oblique collision, in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 43(15), 3152-3163.
Magmatic pulse driven by sea-level changes associated with the Messinian salinity crisis
Sternai Pietro, Caricchi Luca, Garcia-Castellanos Daniel, Jolivet Laurent, Sheldrake Tom E., Castelltort Sebastien (2017), Magmatic pulse driven by sea-level changes associated with the Messinian salinity crisis, in NATURE GEOSCIENCE, 10(10), 783-783.
Deformation of an experimental drainage network in oblique collision
Guerit L., Dominguez S., Malavieille J., Castelltort S. (2016), Deformation of an experimental drainage network in oblique collision, in Tectonophysics, 693, 210-222.
Deglaciation and glacial erosion: A joint control on magma productivity by continental unloading
Sternai Pietro, Caricchi Luca, Castelltort Sebastien, Champagnac Jean-Daniel (2016), Deglaciation and glacial erosion: A joint control on magma productivity by continental unloading, in GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 43(4), 1632-1641.
Environmental signal propagation in sedimentary systems across timescales
Romans Brian W., Castelltort Sébastien, Covault Jacob A., Fildani Andrea, Walsh J.P. (2016), Environmental signal propagation in sedimentary systems across timescales, in Earth-Science Reviews, 153, 7-29.
Tectonics, sedimentation and surface processes: from the erosional engine to basin depositionTECTONICS, SEDIMENTATION AND SURFACE PROCESSES
Castelltort Sébastien, Whittaker Alex, Vergés Jaume (2015), Tectonics, sedimentation and surface processes: from the erosional engine to basin depositionTECTONICS, SEDIMENTATION AND SURFACE PROCESSES, in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 40(13), 1839-1846.
Modes and rates of horizontal deformation from rotated river basins: Application to the Dead Sea fault system in Lebanon
Goren Liran, Castelltort Sebastien, Klinger Yann (2015), Modes and rates of horizontal deformation from rotated river basins: Application to the Dead Sea fault system in Lebanon, in GEOLOGY, 43(9), 843-846.
Estimating regional flood discharge during Palaeocene-Eocene global warming
Chen Chen, Estimating regional flood discharge during Palaeocene-Eocene global warming, in Nature Scientific Reports, SREP-17-55.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Stéphane Dominguez and Jacques Malavieille, CNRS, UMR 5243, Géosciences Montpellier France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Brady Zangs Foreman, National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Guy Simpson, Section of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Geneva Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Liran Goren, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Ben-Gurion University Israel (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Conferences Geosciences Rennes Individual talk Supply-forced deltaic regression during early-eocene hyperthermals, Roda de Isabena, Ainsa 16.02.2018 Rennes, France Castelltort Sébastien;
Geomod Poster Experimental drainage basins as markers of large-scale horizontal deformation 10.10.2017 Montpellier, France Guerit Laure;
SEPM, S2S conference Poster Fluvial signatures in depositional system during Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) in Tremp formation, Spain. 05.06.2017 Tremp & Ainsa, Spanish Pyrenees, Spain Chen Chen;
EGU Talk given at a conference Controls on fluvial metamorphosis during global warming at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (56 Ma) in Spain: extreme droughts, extreme floods or both? 26.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Guerit Laure; Chen Chen; Castelltort Sébastien;
EGU Talk given at a conference Deformation and evolution of an experimental drainage network subjected to oblique deformation: Insight from chi-maps 04.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Guerit Laure;
Séminaire Individual talk Analyse quantitative de la morphologie des systèmes alluviaux - décrypter l’histoire des paysages 02.02.2017 Grenoble, France Guerit Laure;
Conférence Institut Français du Pétrole Individual talk ropagation of environmental signals from source-to-sink and the origin of stratigraphic patterns: Examples from the South-Pyrenean Foreland basin 16.12.2016 Rueil-Malmaison, France Castelltort Sébastien;
Source to sink: a long term perspective of sediment budgets and source characterisation Talk given at a conference Propagation of environmental signals from source to sink and the origin of stratigraphic patterns 01.12.2016 Rennes, France Castelltort Sébastien;
SGM Talk given at a conference Grain size evolution in fluvial deposits during global warming at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary, Tremp formation, Spain. 18.11.2016 GENEVA, Switzerland Chen Chen;
SGM Poster Laboratory experiments of autogenic fluvial progradation above incised-valley fills during sea-level rise. 18.11.2016 GENEVA, Switzerland Chen Chen;
Seminar China University of Geosciences Individual talk Fluvial signatures in depositional system during Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) in Tremp formation, Spain and laboratory experiments of autogenic fluvial progradation above incised-valley fills during sea-level rise 25.10.2016 WUHAN, China Chen Chen;
International Symposium on Marine Engineering Geology Individual talk Laboratory experiments of autogenic fluvial progradation above incised-valley fills during sea-level rise 21.10.2016 Qingdao, China Chen Chen;
Séminaire Individual talk Landscape stress and reorganization of an experimental drainage network inferred from chi maps 20.10.2016 Toulouse, France Guerit Laure;
Séminaire Individual talk Morphologies alluviales et histoire des paysages - quelles informations quantitatives peut nous apporter la morphologie d’un système alluvial ? 10.10.2016 Rennes, France Guerit Laure;
SGM Individual talk Sedimentary signatures of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) in the South-Pyrenees and Laboratory experiments. 20.11.2015 BASEL, Switzerland Guerit Laure;
Séminaire Individual talk Interprétation quantitative des morphologies alluviales 10.10.2015 Toulouse, France Guerit Laure;
Seminar Institut Jaume Almera Individual talk Large-scale horizontal deformation in orogens deduced from deformed river basins: application to New-Zealand and Lebanon 02.10.2015 Barcelona, Spain Castelltort Sébastien;
AAGP Poster Laboratory Experiments of Incised Valley Systems: Influence of Sediment Concentration and Sea Level Rise. 31.05.2015 Calgary, Canada Chen Chen;
EGU Talk given at a conference Timescales of fluvial response to climate and tectonic perturbations 17.04.2015 Vienna, Austria Castelltort Sébastien;
EGU Poster The resilience of river valleys to deformation in experiments: competition between tectonic advection and channel dynamics 10.04.2015 Vienna, Austria Guerit Laure;
AGU Poster Laboratory models of river pattern evolution over a deforming template - Application to the Southern Alps, New Zealand 15.12.2014 San Francisco, United States of America Guerit Laure;
AGU Talk given at a conference Environmental signal propagation in the transfer zone: implications for sequence stratigraphy 15.12.2014 San Francisco, United States of America Castelltort Sébastien;
SGM Poster Sedimentary record of river response to climate change: example of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum in the South-Pyrenean foreland basin, Spain. 21.11.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Chen Chen;
SGM Talk given at a conference Evolution of a drainage network in collisional context - Insights from experimental modeling of the Southern Alps (New Zealand) 10.10.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Guerit Laure;
EGU Poster Fluvial system response to abrupt climate change: a sedimentary record example of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) in the South-Pyrenean foreland basin, Spain 27.04.2014 VIENNE, Austria Guerit Laure; Castelltort Sébastien; Chen Chen;


Self-organised

Title Date Place

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television CQFD: Réchauffement climatique, inquiétantes leçons du passé RTS Western Switzerland 2018
Media relations: radio, television Et si les changements climatiques pouvaient réveiller les volcans RTS CQFD Western Switzerland 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
161652 Experimental river response to grain size change 01.05.2015 International short research visits
182017 Earth Surface Signaling Systems: Upstream versus downstream propagation of climatic signals from source-to-sink, in nature and experiments 01.04.2019 Project funding (Div. I-III)
191614 ClimatiZENs - Climats du passé pour citoyens de demain 01.01.2021 Agora
182017 Earth Surface Signaling Systems: Upstream versus downstream propagation of climatic signals from source-to-sink, in nature and experiments 01.04.2019 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The Earth’s land surface constantly receives and responds to environmental signals of climate change, moving tectonic plates and evolving life. Landscapes respond to such signals by permanently changing their three-dimensional form through erosion and sedimentation which result in a constant flow of material at the Earth’s surface. Earth surface signaling systems refers to the transduction of environmental signals to the landscape and sedimentary records. Understanding earth surface signaling systems aims at understanding the transformations of the surface we live and evolve on. We identify two outstanding gaps in our understanding of Earth surface systems functioning that form the basis of two subprojects: how river networks adapt in response to horizontal deformation (subproject A: post-doctoral researcher), and how alluvial rivers respond to and transmit upstream environmental perturbations from eroding areas to basins (subproject B: PhD student).A classical difficulty inherent to the study of earth surface signaling systems consists in isolating primary controls in natural cases submitted to several concomitant environmental signals over comparable timescales and magnitudes. To overcome this issue, here we propose to address the questions posed above in two subprojects with respect to two “natural experiments” that we have recently worked out in detail and where primary signals are particularly pregnant because of their extreme magnitude: (1) the Southern Alps of New Zealand where we have documented extreme drainage networks reorganization, deformation and displacement of more than 400km over 11My due to oblique strike-slip collision between the Australian and Pacific plates (Nature Geoscience, Castelltort et al., 2012), and (2) the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum ~56 My ago during which a global 5-8° increase of temperature and associated climate change have resulted in the dramatic progradation of coarse-grained material and basin-wide channel geometry changes as documented in the fluvial series of Colorado and the Pyrenees, but comparatively negligible change in the Wyoming fluvial systems of that time (Nature, Foreman et al., 2012). We intend to use these case studies as natural benchmarks for “controlled experiments” which refer to two sets of proposed laboratory models in which the influence of primary variables will be observed under controlled conditions. In subproject A, the post-doctoral research will perform the first physical experiments of oblique collision in a rainfall-erosion facility in order to observe the modes and controls of drainage deformation versus reorganization. We take advantage of the unique opportunity to collaborate with the experimental tectonics and erosion laboratory in Montpellier, France.In subproject B, the PhD student will explore the effects of water discharge and sediment supply perturbations, with an emphasis on grain size, in flume size river models performed in the new laboratory of Surface Dynamics at the University of Geneva.These laboratory models will be complemented by numerical experiments which will allow us to explore broader range of scenarios with more flexibility and test the influence of individual erosion-transport processes dialed in the numerical models.
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