The impact of avulsion on groundwater level and peat formation in delta floodbasins during the middle-Holocene transgression in the Rhine-Meuse delta, The Netherlands
van Asselen, S.
By redistributing water and sediment in delta plains, avulsions of river branches have major environmental impacts, notably in changing hydrological and peat-forming conditions in floodbasins. The central part of the Rhine-Meuse delta, with its extensive databases including detailed lithological data and high-resolution age control, offers a unique opportunity to study middle-Holocene avulsion impacts on floodbasin groundwater level and peat formation. Avulsion has caused local accelerations of rising groundwater tables to be superimposed on decelerating base-level rise. This is evident from comparing single-site groundwater rise for multiple floodbasins in the river-dominated part of the delta, with regionally averaged groundwater-rise reconstructions. Floodbasin type (lacustrine versus terrestrial wetland), size and openness, partly through effects on discharge dispersal, affect how strongly the floodbasin groundwater tables respond to avulsion-diverted discharge. Cross-sectional lithology repeatedly indicates a shift from high-organic wood peat to low-organic reed peat in the vicinity of the avulsed channel, resulting from changes in water-table regime and nutrient status. Avulsive impact on the floodbasin groundwater table was most pronounced during the transition from transgressive to high-stand stage (between ca. 6000 and 4000 years ago), owing to developing floodbasin compartmentalization (size reduction, confinement) resulting from repeated avulsion. By way of environmental impacts on groundwater tables and vegetation, avulsions thus affect the heterogeneity of floodbasin facies. © 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.
To reference this document use:
Groundwater table rise
Geological Survey Netherlands
GM - Geomodelling
ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences
Holocene, 27 (27), 1694-1706