Megafans are ever-evolving landforms and sedimentary bodies produced by rivers that regularly change their courses through avulsions, in which the processes that cause the avulsions and their rates are tightly linked to the formation and evolution of the fans. The commonly cited condition required for the formation of megafans is a highly variable climate setting (monsoonal) which results in variable discharge and sediment transport capacity. However, some megafans occur in tropical settings in rivers with lower discharge variability but high sediment loads due to input from volcanic or tectonically active sources. We examine the Santa Clara Megafan (Costa Rica) to establish a model of explosive volcanism-driven megafan evolution, an alternative model to the climate-driven one. Studying chronological, archaeological, historical and remote sensing data we infer that major avulsions and shifts in the main rivers of this megafan are temporally and spatially correlated to strong eruptions (VEI ≥ 3). Furthermore, a period of ca. 1700 years with few changes in the fluvial system of the eastern sector of the megafan coincides with a low volcanic activity in its source area (i.e. Turrialba Volcano). The megafan avulsion rate was estimated as ~1 major avulsion per century in the last five centuries, when four strong eruptions (~0.8 eruptions/century) took place. These shifts in the rivers in response to the volcanic activity produced the activation or abandonment of megafan sedimentary lobes at a secular pace. The record of these changes will support future archaeological studies and lahar hazard assessments. Furthermore, the Santa Clara Megafan provides a model to explain the formation of megafans on Earth or on other planets through non-climatic processes.

River avulsions and megafan development triggered by high recurrent explosive volcanism

Galve, J. P.
;
Devoto, S.
Investigation
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Megafans are ever-evolving landforms and sedimentary bodies produced by rivers that regularly change their courses through avulsions, in which the processes that cause the avulsions and their rates are tightly linked to the formation and evolution of the fans. The commonly cited condition required for the formation of megafans is a highly variable climate setting (monsoonal) which results in variable discharge and sediment transport capacity. However, some megafans occur in tropical settings in rivers with lower discharge variability but high sediment loads due to input from volcanic or tectonically active sources. We examine the Santa Clara Megafan (Costa Rica) to establish a model of explosive volcanism-driven megafan evolution, an alternative model to the climate-driven one. Studying chronological, archaeological, historical and remote sensing data we infer that major avulsions and shifts in the main rivers of this megafan are temporally and spatially correlated to strong eruptions (VEI ≥ 3). Furthermore, a period of ca. 1700 years with few changes in the fluvial system of the eastern sector of the megafan coincides with a low volcanic activity in its source area (i.e. Turrialba Volcano). The megafan avulsion rate was estimated as ~1 major avulsion per century in the last five centuries, when four strong eruptions (~0.8 eruptions/century) took place. These shifts in the rivers in response to the volcanic activity produced the activation or abandonment of megafan sedimentary lobes at a secular pace. The record of these changes will support future archaeological studies and lahar hazard assessments. Furthermore, the Santa Clara Megafan provides a model to explain the formation of megafans on Earth or on other planets through non-climatic processes.
2022
29-set-2022
Pubblicato
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X22003592
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3036481
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