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Late Holocene channel and floodplain development in a wandering gravel-bed river: The River South Tyne at Lambley, Northern England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Passmore


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Geomorphological analyses of the morphology, lithostratigraphy and chronology of Holocene alluvial fills in a 2.75 km long piedmont reach of the wandering gravel-bed River South Tyne at Lambley in Northumberland, northern England, have identified spatial and temporal patterns of late Holocene channel and floodplain development and elucidated the relationship between reach- and subreach-scale channel transformation and terrace formation. Five terraced alluvial fills have been dated to periods sometime between c. 1400 BC-AD 1100, AD 1100-1300, AD 1300-1700, AD 1700-1850 and from AD 1850 to the present. Palaeochannel morphology and lithofacies architecture of alluvial deposits indicate that the past 3000 years has been characterized by episodic channel and floodplain change associated with development and subsequent recovery of subreach-scale zones of instability which have been fixed in neither time nor space. Cartographic and photographic evidence spanning the past 130 years suggests channel transformation can be accomplished in as little as 50 years. The localized and episodic nature of fluvial adjustment at Lambley points to the operation of subreach-scale controls of coarse sediment transfers. These include downstream propagation of sediment waves, as well as internal controls imposed by differing valley floor morphology, gradient and boundary materials. However, the preservation of correlated terrace levels indicates that major phases of floodplain construction and entrenchment have been superimposed over locally complex patterns of sediment transfer. Reach-scale lateral and vertical channel adjustments at Lambley appear to be closely related to climatically driven changes in flood frequency and magnitude, with clusters of extreme floods being particularly important for accomplishing entrenchment and reconfiguring the pattern of localized instability zones. Confinement of flood flows by valley entrenchment, and contamination of catchment river courses by metal-rich fine sediments following recent historic mining operations, have combined to render the South Tyne at Lambley increasingly sensitive to changes in flood regimes over the past 1000 years. Copyright (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Passmore D, Macklin M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms

Year: 2000

Volume: 25

Issue: 11

Pages: 1237-1256

Print publication date: 01/01/2000

ISSN (print): 0197-9337

ISSN (electronic): 1096-9837


DOI: 10.1002/1096-9837(200010)25:11<1237::AID-ESP134>3.0.CO;2-S


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