Late Holocene floodplain incision and alluvial fan formation in the Central Grampian Highlands, Scotland: chronology, environment and implications

Colin Kerr Ballantyne, GW Whittington

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    53 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    A section cut across an alluvial fan and the underlying floodplain terrace in the central Grampian Highlands provides an unusually complete record of late Holocene events. At ca. 2.7-2.4 cal kyr BP floodplain aggradation was replaced by net floodplain incision. Pollen evidence and charcoal counts provide no evidence for contemporaneous anthropogenic landscape change, and the timing of the transition suggests that it reflects an increase in high-magnitude erosive flood events following overall climatic deterioration. The overlying fan was deposited by torrential hyperconcentrated flows during three brief storm-generated depositional events at ca. 2.2-2.1, 1.9-1.8 and 0.9-0.7 cal kyr BP, separated and succeeded by prolonged periods of stability and peat accumulation. During these three events, a cumulative total of ca. 6750 m(3) of sediment was deposited, probably in no more than a few hours over a timescale of two millennia. These findings imply that proposed links between human activity and the development of alluvial fans or debris cones require reassessment, and that different elements of the Holocene alluvial landscape have responded in different ways to the same climatic inputs. Aggregation of dating evidence relating to aggradation or incision of alluvial landforms at different scales therefore may produce misleading results. Copyright (C) 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)651-671
    Number of pages21
    JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
    Volume14
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

    Keywords

    • alluvial fan
    • floodplain terrace
    • extreme runoff events
    • anthropogenic landscape change
    • upland Britain
    • ISLE-OF-SKYE
    • NORTHWEST ENGLAND
    • GLACIAL LANDFORMS
    • CLIMATIC-CHANGE
    • HOWGILL FELLS
    • ICE-AGE
    • CAIRNGORMS
    • CALIBRATION
    • EVOLUTION
    • UPLANDS

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