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Historical palaeohydrology and landscape resilience of a Mediterranean rambla (Castellon, NE Spain): Floods and people.



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Sánchez Moya, Yolanda and Sopeña Ortega, Alfonso and Machado, María J. and Medialdea, Alicia and Calle, M. and Rico, María T. (2017) Historical palaeohydrology and landscape resilience of a Mediterranean rambla (Castellon, NE Spain): Floods and people. Quaternary Science Reviews, 171 . pp. 182-198. ISSN 0277-3791

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This paper provides a new methodological approach to analyse secular patterns of flooding (magnitude and frequency) from sedimentary evidence (palaeofloods), taking into account changes in channel geometry, and their links to historical environmental changes and the inherent social and demographic evolution within the catchment. A case study analysis was focused in Rambla de la Viuda (drainage area of 1500 km2) whose stream flow is related to extreme rainfalls. A 500 years sedimentary archive was reconstructed from eight stratigraphic profiles comprising continuous sequences of slackwater flood deposits interbedded with episodic colluvial and edaphic horizons. Discharge estimates associated to sedimentary flood evidences were obtained from one-dimensional hydraulic modelling. The stratigraphic units were sampled to characterise their geochemical and paleobotanical (phytoliths) contents. Palaeoflood chronology was obtained from radiocarbon and luminescence (OSL) dating, supported by documentary data (written historical documents). A high frequency and high magnitude palaeoflood period took place during the 15th-middle 16th century, which seem to correlate in time with general wetter conditions. Three short-term environment stability conditions (land use and climatic) also made possible the development of three paleosols. The lowest flood magnitude and discharges in the sedimentary record was found between the mid-17th to mid-18th centuries, under prevailing drier environmental conditions. Episodic high magnitude flooding took place at late 18th century, correlating in time with palaeovegetation and geochemical evidences of important changes on land use (deforestation and grazing). Poorer developed soils were found at upper stratigraphic sequences (19th century) characterised by thick units of colluvium deposits, usually culminating sequences of short-lived continuous slackwater flood units. Despite of the potential human influence (land-use) on soil hydrology, the longterm behaviour of high magnitude floods (>1000 m3 s-1) has been stationary over the last 500 years.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Palaeohydrology, Palaeofloods, Flood frequency analysis, Historical landcover
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
Sciences > Geology > Hidrology
ID Code:46979
Deposited On:10 Jul 2020 09:37
Last Modified:13 Jul 2020 08:37

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