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Spatial and temporal patterns of the upper Pleistocene alluvial fill deposits of the upstream Seine River alluvial plain, la Bassée, France

Deleplancque, B., Cojan, I., Beucher, H., Mehl, C., Stab, O.
Geomorphology 2018 v.318 pp. 148-161
alluvial plains, basins, climatic factors, digital elevation models, rivers, sediment transport, sediments, topography, wells, France
This study focuses on the contrasted architectural elements of the two late Pleistocene alluvial fill sequences (T1 and T2 attributed to the Late Saalian and Weichselian) of the upstream Seine River alluvial plain, la Bassée, and constitutes the first estimation of the sediment volumes associated to these glacial cycles along this river. Estimations of the incised valley and valley fill spatial distribution are obtained by cokriging of data from 546 wells collected from the French national repository and a digital elevation model (DEM) of the present topography. The well stratigraphic attribution is given by the homogenised geomorphological map of la Bassée.We calculated the sediment volume of eroded material for the T1 sequence to be 1.70 10⁹ m³ and of valley fill deposits to be 1.18 10⁹ m³. This corresponds to a mean thickness of 6.1 m. By contrast, volumes of the T2 sequence are one-third smaller, 1.23 10⁹ m³. The T2 mean thickness is very similar with 5.8 m. The alluvial plain is divided into four reaches representing a typical assemblage of the T1 and T2 incision style and valley fill deposits. Along the downstream reaches (1 - Montereau-Bazoches, 2 - Bazoches-Grisy), the T2 proportion per kilometer are close to the alluvial plain mean value (reach 1: 76%; reach 2: 69%, la Bassée: 71%), the T2 mean incised valley width corresponds to three quarters of the T1 (4 km). In the middle upstream reach (3 - Grisy-Courceroy), the T2 proportion is the largest (92%), the T2 mean incised valley width is the largest and comparable to the T1 (5.5 km). Along the upstream reach (4 - Courceroy-Romilly), the T2 proportion is the lowest (53%) and the T2 incised valley (2 km wide) is enclosed within the T1 incised valley (4 km wide). The rate of exported material, though, is the same for each sequence in any reach (31%).The spatial pattern of the T1-T2 deposits coincides largely with the presence of a knickpoint along the T2 paleothalweg (downstream part of reach 4, slope face 1.5‰), suggesting that the knickpoint had a large influence on the fluvial processes. The toe of the knickpoint (reaches 3 to 1, slope 0.24‰) was the site of the most efficient erosion of the T1 deposits. We propose that the change of slope favored diversion of the channel path. Upstream of the knickpoint face (upstream part of reach 4, thalweg slope 0.34‰), the incision processes were dominated by incision, avulsions or multithreading with limited lateral migration as indicated by the numerous T1 relicts preserved across valley. The sediment export corresponds to a mean incision rate of 40 m/Ma during the last 300 kyr; a fairly low value for the Paris basin, suggesting a low uplift area north of the Massif Central.Such contrast between the fluvial processes during the T1 and T2 sequences is most likely to be looked for in the climatic conditions that existed at the onset of the incision as no local controls for the knickpoint location could be identified such as active faults, substrate heterogeneity, or flow modifications. The lower sediment flux and the knickpoint associated to the T2 sequence suggest a transient river profile and valley incision at the end of the climatic transition associated to the Weichselian (T2).