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Fluvial response to climatic and anthropogenic forcing in the Moselle drainage basin (NE France) during historical periods: evidence from OSL dating

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Cordier, S., Lauer, T., Harmand, D., Frechen, M., & Brkojewitch, G. (2012). Fluvial response to climatic and anthropogenic forcing in the Moselle drainage basin (NE France) during historical periods: evidence from OSL dating. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 37(11), 1167-1175. doi:10.1002/esp.3236.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-8927-8
The aim of this paper is to study a low energy fluvial system response to natural and anthropogenic forcing during the last two millennia. In contrast with longer timescales (Holocene to Quaternary), historical sedimentary archives are sparse in such systems which are typically characterized by the predominance of erosion compared with aggradation. We studied three main sections in the Moselle valley (northeastern France) by a multi-proxy approach combining morphology, sedimentology, archaeological evidence, historical archives, and dating. The geochronological framework was based on Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) and validated by independent age control. The exposed sediments were allocated to different historical periods from Roman period to present. The first results show that, in contrast with many other fluvial systems, the Moselle and its tributaries did not experience major changes during historical periods. Climatic changes such as the Little Ice Age had a minor influence on floodplain aggradation (e.g. in grain size or sedimentation rates) in the Moselle valley and were only able to affect the fluvial style. This provides evidence that the reworking of sediments is the main fluvial process at short timescales in the valley floors of the Moselle catchment. In contrast, anthropogenic forcing seems important not only during recent centuries but also since Roman times. This is suggested by the case-study of the Metz-Mazelle section where significant headward erosion and sedimentation were recognized, and may be related to human occupation. The results therefore point to a need for increasing geoarchaeological and geochronological research in the Moselle catchment and similar low energy fluvial systems. Such research is actually essential to improve the knowledge of the fluvial response to environmental changes during the historical periods and to recognize the respective influence of natural variability and human forcing. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.