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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 May 2018

Research article | 14 May 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).

Lowlands fluvial sedimentation enlightens glacial dynamics in narrow valleys during the Last Glacial Maximum (Venetian Forealps, Italy)

Sandro Rossato1, Anna Carraro2, Giovanni Monegato2, Paolo Mozzi1, and Fabio Tateo2 Sandro Rossato et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Padova, 35131, Italy
  • 2Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources (IGG) – National Research Council (CNR), Padova, 35131, Italy

Abstract. During the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), most of the major glaciated basins of the European Southern Alps had piedmont lobes with large outwash plains; only few glaciers remained within the valley. The formers left well-preserved terminal moraines, whose investigation allowed to infer their evolution and chronology. Valley glaciers remnants, on the contrary, are often scantly preserved and changes can be detected only through the correlation with the glaciofluvial deposits in downstream alluvial basins. The Brenta glacial systems dynamics in its terminal tract was inferred through a wide range of sediment analysis techniques on an alluvial stratigraphic record of the Brenta megafan (NE Italy) and the mapping of in-valley glacial/glaciofluvial remnants. Glaciers flowing across narrow gorges turned out to be possibly slowed/blocked by such morphology and, if a lateral valley exists, glacial/sediment fluxes can be diverted. Moreover, narrow valleys may induce glaciers to bulge and form icefalls at their front, preventing the formation of terminal moraines. The Brenta glacier was probably slowed/blocked by the narrow Valsugana gorge downstream of Primolano and was effectively diverted eastwards across a windgap (Canal La Menor valley), joining the Cismon/Piave glaciers near Rocca and ending ~2km downstream. The Cismon River started to flow along its present path just before 27kacalBP, while the Piave catchment contributed to the Brenta system at the acme of LGM, from ~27 to, at least, ~19.5kacalBP. Our investigation shows that glacial catchments may significantly vary over time during a single glaciation in rugged Alpine terrains. Sand petrography and chemical/mineralogical composition of sediments are good tracer of such variations, that reflects in the glacial and glaciofluvial systems and can be recognized in the alluvial stratigraphic record far downstream from the glacier front.

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Sandro Rossato et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Glaciations may induce significant changes in the catchments of major sedimentary systems over time, also during a single glaciation. The rugged morphology of Alpine valleys may slow, block or divert glacial tongues. Such conclusion arises from the reconstruction we made of the Brenta (NE Italy) glacial system dynamics through sediment analysis techniques on its alluvial stratigraphic record and the mapping of in-valley glacial/glaciofluvial remnants.
Glaciations may induce significant changes in the catchments of major sedimentary systems over...