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The role of long-term human impact on avulsion and fan development

TitleThe role of long-term human impact on avulsion and fan development
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHeyvaert, VMA, Walstra, J
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Volume41
Pagination2137-2152
ISSN1096-9837
Abstract

This study aims to understand (mainly qualitatively) the long-term role of human impact on avulsion processes and the development of fluvial (mega-) fans in semi-arid environments. In this paper we refer to human impact as the direct influences of actions on the river's hydraulics (i.e. flow regulation, flow diversion and channel engineering). In five case-studies drawn from the Khuzestan plains in southwest Iran we have analysed the setup and triggering conditions of specific avulsions that occurred in the past (timescale of millennia) and identified the role of human interference in their causation. Our analysis is based on the integration of historical, archaeological, geomorphological and geological data. Through this study we demonstrate that avulsions in the Khuzestan plains are the result of long-term and complex interplay between multiple human-induced and natural causes. In similar ways human-induced actions may play important roles during different phases of avulsion development. The {`}success{`} of an avulsion in the post-triggering phase may be defined by human-induced setup causes as well as morphodynamic processes. We suggest that present-day flood events may be partly inherited from long-term human alterations of the natural processes. These finding could have implications for any fluvial system (e.g. distributive fluvial systems, deltas) where avulsion plays a major role in their development and research tends to emphasize on natural mechanisms.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1002/esp.4011
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