Tectonic and climatic controls on Holocene channel migration, incision and terrace formation by the Rio Grande in the Palomas half graben, southern Rio Grande rift, USA

Mack, Greg H., Leeder, Mike, Perez-Arlucea, Marta and Durr, Meredith (2010) Tectonic and climatic controls on Holocene channel migration, incision and terrace formation by the Rio Grande in the Palomas half graben, southern Rio Grande rift, USA. Sedimentology, 58 (5). pp. 1065-1086. ISSN 1365-3091

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Abstract

In order to evaluate potential effects of tectonics and climate change on the behaviour of the axial Rio Grande in the Rio Grande rift, a 16·5 km stretch of modern floodplain and Holocene terraces were mapped in the tectonically active Palomas half graben, south-central New Mexico, USA. In addition, 51 cores and natural exposures were logged and 20 radiocarbon dates were obtained from charcoal, bulk organic matter, mollusc shells and pedogenic calcite. The Holocene alluvium comprises four terraces above the modern floodplain, each of which formed by a period of river incision followed by stability and renewed floodplain construction to a level below that of the previous terraces. Estimated times of incision between Terraces I and II, II and III, and III and IV are after 12 400, 8040 to 5310, and 760 to 550 yr bp, respectively, whereas the incision between Terrace IV and the modern floodplain occurred within the last 260 years. Although there is some evidence for tectonic control on river behaviour in the southern part of the basin, terrace formation is interpreted as being related to climate change, with periods of incision corresponding to times of increased aridity and low sediment/water discharge ratio in the Rio Grande. This process may have resulted from a reduction in intensity and magnitude of summer storms which supply sediment to the axial river, coupled with an increase in spring discharge peak caused by snowmelt in upstream mountain catchments.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Users 2731 not found.
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2011 12:07
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 16:59
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/34695
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3091.2010.01195.x

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