Lake sediments as archives of recurrence rates and intensities of past flood events

Gilli, Adrian; Anselmetti, Flavio S.; Glur, Lukas; Wirth, Stefanie B. (2013). Lake sediments as archives of recurrence rates and intensities of past flood events. In: Schneuwly-Bollschweiler, Michelle; Stoffel, Markus; Rudolf-Miklau, Florian (eds.) Dating Torrential Processes on Fans and Cones. Advances in Global Change Research: Vol. 47 (pp. 225-242). Dordrecht: Springer 10.1007/978-94-007-4336-6_15

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Palaeoflood hydrology is an expanding field as the damage potential of flood and flood-related processes are increasing with the population density and the value of the infrastructure. Assessing the risk of these hazards in mountainous terrain requires knowledge about the frequency and severness of such events in the past. A wide range of methods is employed using diverse biologic, geomorphic or geologic evidences to track past flood events. Impact of floods are studied and dated on alluvial fans and cones using for example the growth disturbance of trees (Stoffel and Bollschweiler 2008; Schneuwly-Bollschweiler and Stoffel 2012: this volume) or stratigraphic layers deposited by debris flows, allowing to reconstruct past flood frequencies (Bardou et~al. 2003). Further downstream, the classical approach of palaeoflood hydrology (Kochel and Baker 1982) utilizes geomorphic indicators such as overbank sediments, silt lines and erosion features of floods along a river (e.g. Benito and Thorndycraft 2005). Fine-grained sediment settles out of the river suspension in eddies or backwater areas, where the flow velocity of the river is reduced. Records of these deposits at different elevations across a river’s profile can be used to assess the discharge of the past floods. This approach of palaeoflood hydrology studies was successfully applied in several river catchments (e.g. Ely et al. 1993; Macklin and Lewin 2003; O’Connor et al. 1994; Sheffer et al. 2003; Thorndycraft et al. 2005; Thorndycraft and Benito 2006). All these different reconstruction methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, but often these studies have a limited time coverage and the records are potentially incomplete due to lateral limits of depositional areas and due to the erosional power of fluvial processes that remove previously deposited flood witnesses. Here, we present a method that follows the sediment particle transported by a flood event to its final sink: the lacustrine basin.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Quaternary Geology

UniBE Contributor:

Anselmetti, Flavio and Glur, Lukas


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology






Advances in Global Change Research






Flavio Anselmetti

Date Deposited:

11 Aug 2014 09:16

Last Modified:

25 Jul 2016 09:24

Publisher DOI:





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