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Title: The push and pull of abandoned channels: how floodplain processes and healing affect avulsion dynamics and alluvial landscape evolution in foreland basins
Abstract. River avulsions are an important mechanism by which sediment is routed andemplaced in foreland basins. However, because avulsions occur infrequently,we lack observational data that might inform where, when, and why avulsionsoccur and these issues are instead often investigated by rule-basednumerical models. These models have historically simplified or neglected the effects of abandoned channels on avulsion dynamics, even though fluvialmegafans in foreland basins are characteristically covered in abandonedchannels. Here, we investigate the pervasiveness of abandoned channels onmodern fluvial megafan surfaces. Then, we present a physically basedcellular model that parameterizes interactions between a single avulsingriver and abandoned channels in a foreland basin setting. We investigate how abandoned channels affect avulsion setup, pathfinding, and landscapeevolution. We demonstrate and discuss how the processes of abandoned channel inheritance and transient knickpoint propagation post-avulsion serve to shortcut the time necessary to set up successive avulsions. Then, we address the idea that abandoned channels can both repel and attract future pathfinding flows under different conditions. By measuring the distance between the mountain front and each avulsion over long (106 to 107 years) timescales, we show that increasing abandoned channel repulsion serves to push avulsions farther from the mountain front, while increasing attraction pulls avulsions proximally. Abandoned channels do more » not persist forever, and we test possible channel healing scenarios (deposition-only, erosion-only, and far-field-directed) and show that only the final scenario achieves dynamic equilibrium without completely filling accommodation space. We also observe megafan growth occurring via ∼100 000-year cycles of lobe switching but only in our runs that employ deposition-only or erosion-only healing modes. Finally, we highlight opportunities for future field work and remote sensing efforts to inform our understanding of the role that floodplain topography, including abandoned channels, plays on avulsion dynamics. « less
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Journal Name:
Earth Surface Dynamics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
555 to 579
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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