Using river long profiles and geomorphic indices to evaluate the geomorphological signature of continental scale drainage capture, Duero basin (NW Iberia)



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Antón López, Loreto and De Vicente Muñoz, Gerardo and Muñoz Martín, Alfonso and Stokes, Martin (2013) Using river long profiles and geomorphic indices to evaluate the geomorphological signature of continental scale drainage capture, Duero basin (NW Iberia). Geomorphology, 206 . pp. 250-261. ISSN 0169-555X

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Well-constrained case studies of transient landscape responses are needed to improve our understanding of erosion processes associated with drainage captures. The Duero basin is an excellent location for such a study because the landscape is currently undergoing pronounced geomorphological changes resulting from the opening of a former closed drainage. The present-day continental interior basin (N50,000 km2) drains to the Atlantic Ocean via the Duero River, but during the Cenozoic the basin experienced a long endorheic period marked by the formation of evaporites. Currently, the entire continental interior is an area of relative tectonic quiescence, characterised by a relict low-relief upland topography (Meseta). Systematic variations in lithology and a well-constrained tectonic setting throughout the basin and adjacent areas allow for the comparison of channel morphology between the Cenozoic Duero basin and its western fringe. To explore the signal of transient geomorphic response to capture and opening of the former endorheic basin, the main channel and 24 tributaries were analysed in terms of their longitudinal profiles and the application of geomorphic indices (concavity index [Ci], valley floorwidth-to-height ratio [Vf], and stream-length gradient index [SL]). The analysis reveals two zones with distinctive morphologies: (1) an upper reach domain consisting of broad flat valleys and low-gradient streams where concave longitudinal profiles dominate and (2) a middle reach domain characterised by steep, deeply incised canyons where a convex long profile dominates marking a major kinckzone. The quantitative information on channel shapes and long profile geometries allows the interpretation of these patterns in terms of driving forces for fluvial landscape development. Large-scale morphometric analysis highlights the transient response of the entire basin to a capture-related base level lowering and illustrates the importance of drainage captures as potential internal drivers of landscape modification and topographic adjustments. Furthermore, the Duero basin case study also emphasises that well-constrained bedrock geology and tectonic patterns are essential to avoid misinterpretation of geomorphic indexes.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Bedrock rivers, Fluvial geomorphology, Exorheic, Endorheic, Morphotectonic indices
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Geodynamics
ID Code:45177
Deposited On:31 Oct 2017 07:42
Last Modified:31 Oct 2017 08:42

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