A cellular model of Holocene upland river basin and alluvial fan evolution

M. J. Kirkby, Mark G. Macklin, Tom J. Coulthard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The CAESAR (Cellular Automaton Evolutionary Slope And River) model is used to simulate the Holocene development of a small upland catchment (4.2 km(2)) and the alluvial fan at its base. The model operates at a 3 m grid scale and simulates every flood over the last 9200 years. using a rainfall record reconstructed from peat bog wetness indices and land cover history derived from palynological sources. Model results show that the simulated catchment sediment discharge above the alluvial fan closely follows the climate signal, but with an increase in the amplitude of response after deforestation. The important effects of sediment storage and remobilization are shown, and findings suggest that soil creep rates may be an important control on long term (> 1000 years) temperate catchment sediment yield. The simulated alluvial fan shows a complex and episodic behaviour, with frequent avulsions across the fan surface. However. there appears to be no clear link between fan response and climate or land use changes suggesting that Holocene alluvial fan dynamics may be the result of phases of sediment storage and remobilization, or instabilities and thresholds within the fan itself. Copyright (C) 2002 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-288
Number of pages20
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Publication statusPublished - 06 Sept 2011


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