Geochemical insights to the formation of "sedimentary buffers"

Considering the role of tributary-trunk stream interactions on catchment-scale sediment flux and drainage network dynamics

Kirstie Fryirs*, Damian B. Gore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The concept of disconnectivity (or decoupling) of sediment movement in river systems is an important concept in analyses of sediment flux in catchments. At the catchment scale, various blockages-termed buffers, barriers and blankets-form along the sediment cascade, interrupting the conveyance of sediments downstream. Long-lived buffers can control aspects of catchment sediment flux for an extended period.The upper Hunter catchment has a highly disconnected sediment cascade. The most highly disconnected subcatchment (Dart Brook) contains a distinct type of buffer, a trapped tributary fill, in its downstream reaches, reducing the effective catchment area of the upper Hunter catchment by ~. 18%. We test the use of elemental analyses provided by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry of homogenous sediment profiles taken from floodplain bank exposures to determine that the geochemical composition of the sediments that make up this trapped-tributary fill system have been derived from two distinct source areas (the tributary system and the trunk stream). Over at least the Holocene, sedimentation along the axis of the Hunter River valley (the trunk stream) has formed an impediment to sediment conveyance along the lower tributary catchment, essentially "trapping" the tributary. We present an evolutionary model of how this type of "blockage" has formed and discuss implications of tributary-trunk stream (dis)connectivity in analysis of catchment-scale sediment flux and drainage network dynamics. In this case, a relatively large tributary network is having a "geomorphically insignificant" impact on trunk stream dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalGeomorphology
Volume219
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2014

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