Quantifying postglacial sediment storage and denudation rates in a small alpine catchment of the Făgăraș Mountains (Romania)

Sci Total Environ. 2017 Dec 1;599-600:1756-1767. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.05.131. Epub 2017 May 19.


The study of sediment production, transport, storage and discharge in alpine drainage basins is an essential prerequisite for a better understanding of the postglacial evolution of the alpine landscape. To get an overview on sediment production and alpine landscape evolution in Romania, the current study presents the first alpine sediment storage quantification in the Romanian Carpathians. Postglacial denudation was quantified within the small alpine catchment of the Doamnei Valley (3.62km2), located in the central part of the Făgăraș Mountains. The quantification of sediment volumes was performed through a combined approach consisting of: (i) detailed geomorphological mapping of sediment storage landforms, by means of high accuracy field and remote mapping of sediment storage landforms, (ii) shallow geophysical investigations and (iii) geographic information systems modeling techniques. A total of 64 ground penetrating radar profiles were conducted through the valley for sediment thickness determination of individual landforms. Through parallel profiling, 5 electrical resistivity tomography profiles were also performed for the comparison of bedrock depths in order to determine the overall degree of accuracy of the geophysical investigations applied. In total, 79 sediment storage landforms were identified. Talus sheets were found to be the most dominant landforms within the investigated area, followed by talus cones, moraines and fluvio-torrential deposits. Sediment volume for the Doamnei Valley was calculated to be 7.08±1.42 106m3, corresponding to a mean sediment thickness of 4.20m, with the hanging cirques and valleys subsystem storing 48.58% of the total sediment volume, despite covering just 22% of the investigated area. Sediment volume was used in the determination of mean annual denudation rates for the entire catchment (0.20mm/y±0.04mm/y) as well as for mean annual mass transfer (406.2±31.6t/km2/y), based on a time span of 13ka.

Keywords: GIS modeling; Ground penetrating radar; Postglacial denudation; Romanian Carpathians; Sediment budget; Sediment storage.