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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2018-43
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Jun 2018

Research article | 13 Jun 2018

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

Uniform grain-size distribution in the active layer of a shallow, gravel-bed, braided river (the Urumqi River, China) and implications for paleo-hydrology

Laure Guerit1, Laurie Barrier2, Youcun Liu3, Clément Narteau2, Eric Lajeunesse2, Eric Gayer2, and François Métivier2 Laure Guerit et al.
  • 1GET, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, IRD, UPS, Toulouse, France
  • 2Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris – Sorbonne Paris Cité, Université Paris Diderot, CNRS, UMR 7154, Paris, France
  • 3School of Resources and Environmental Engineering, Jiangxi University of Science and Technology, Ganzhou 341000, China

Abstract. The grain-size distribution of ancient alluvial systems is commonly determined from surface samples of vertically exposed sections of gravel deposits. This method relies on the hypothesis that the grain-size distribution obtained from a vertical cross-section is equivalent to that of the river bed. We report a field test of this hypothesis on samples collected on an active, gravel-bed, braided stream: the Urumqi River in China. We compare data from volumetric samples of a trench excavated in an active thread and surface counts performed on the trench vertical faces. We show that the grain-size distributions obtained from all samples are similar and that the deposit is uniform at the scale of the river active layer, a layer extending from the surface to a depth of approximately ten times the size of the largest clasts.

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Short summary
The grain-size distribution of ancient alluvial systems is commonly determined from sections of gravel deposits exposed vertically to reconstruct paleo-environments or changes in tectonic and/or climate. To test whether such grain-size distribution is equivalent to the one of the sediments that were in direct contact with the flow at the time of deposition, we dug a large trench in an active gravel-bed braided river. We show that the granulometry is uniform at the scale of the active layer.
The grain-size distribution of ancient alluvial systems is commonly determined from sections of...
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