Lateral erosion ('toe-cutting') of alluvial fans by axial rivers: Implications for basin analysis and architecture

Leeder, M. R. and Mack, G. H. (2001) Lateral erosion ('toe-cutting') of alluvial fans by axial rivers: Implications for basin analysis and architecture. Journal of the Geological Society, 158 (6). pp. 885-893. ISSN 0016-7649

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We document the neglected phenomenon of lateral erosion ('toe-cutting') of alluvial fans by non-incising axial river channels. Field examples from the Holocene of the Big Lost River basin, Idaho and the Plio-Pleistocene of the Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico help to establish architectural models with more general application to basin analysis. The process of toe-cutting can lead to complete fan destruction and may be a response to climate change, tectonic tilting, fault propagation or a combination of these variables. It gives rise to: Near horizontal erosion surfaces cut in fan sediment; steep fan-margin scarps; progressive up-fan incision from the scarp by a network of channels; soil formation up-fan away from the incised channel network: A deposit of axial alluvium that overlies the erosion surface and onlaps the scarp. Once avulsion occurs to take the axial channel away from the bajada margin, distinctive 'healing-wedges' of fan alluvium prograde across abandoned axial river channel and floodplain deposits, gradually onlapping the eroded scarp and its upstream network of incised channels. Toe-cutting has important stratigraphic basin analysis and economic consequences: Bajada deposits subject to the process exhibit appreciable extra groundwater and petroleum reservoir potential in the intercalations of more porous and permeable axial fluvial sediments.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 13 - climate action ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/climate_action
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Geosciences
Depositing User: Rosie Cullington
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2011 13:29
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 16:47
DOI: 10.1144/0016-760000-198

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