Flood-based analysis of high-magnitude sediment transport using a non-parametric method

T. Francke, J. A. López-Tarazón, Damià Vericat Querol, A. Bronstert, Ramon J. Batalla

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49 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Upland erosion and the resulting reservoir siltation is a serious issue in the Isábena catchment (445 km2 Central Spanish Pyrenees). During a three-month period, water and sediment fluxes have been monitored at the catchment outlet (Capella), two adjacent subcatchments (Villacarli, 41 km2; Cabecera, 145 km2) and the elementary badland catchment Torrelaribera (8 ha). This paper presents the results of the monitoring, a method for the calculation of a sedigraph from intermittent measurements and the derived sediment yields at the monitored locations. The observed suspended sediment concentrations (SSCs) demonstrate the role of badlands as sediment sources: SSCs of up to 280 g l−1 were encountered for Villacarli, which includes large badland areas. SSCs at the Cabecera catchment, with great areas of woodland, barely exceeded 30 g l−1. SSCs directly at the sediment source (Torrelaribera) were comparable to those at Villacarli, suggesting a close connection within this subcatchment. At Capella, SSCs of up to 99 g l−1 were observed. For all sites, SSC displayed only a loose correlation with discharge, inhibiting the application of a simple sediment rating curve. Instead, ancillary variables acting as driving forces or proxies for the processes (rainfall energy, cumulative discharge, rising/falling limb data) were included in a quantile regression forest model to explain the variability in SSC. The variables with most predictive power vary between the sites, suggesting the predominance of different processes. The subsequent flood-based calculation of sediment yields attests high specific sediment yields for Torrelaribera and Villacarli (6277 and 1971 t km−2) and medium to high yields for Cabecera and Capella (139 and 410 t km−2) during the observation period. In all catchments, most of the sediment was exported during intense storms of late summer. Later flood events yield successively less sediment. Relating upland sediment production to yield at the outlet suggests considerable effects of sediment storage within the river channel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2064-2077
Number of pages14
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

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