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The potential of small mountain river systems for paleoenvironmental reconstructions in drylands - an example from the Binaloud Mountains in Northeastern Iran

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Khosravichenar,  Azra
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Khosravichenar, A., Fattahi, M., Amini, H., & Suchodoletz, H. v. (2020). The potential of small mountain river systems for paleoenvironmental reconstructions in drylands - an example from the Binaloud Mountains in Northeastern Iran. Geosciences, 10, 448. doi:10.3390/geosciences10110448.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-7F48-B
Abstract
Fluvial sediments are valuable paleoenvironmental archives of the Quaternary. Since besides environmental factors they are also affected by local tectonics or intrinsic processes, large instead of small catchments should be studied. In drylands covering ca. 45% of the global terrestrial surface large river systems are generally missing, and most river systems are small rivers originating from mountain ranges. Their sediments are potentially interesting paleoenvironmental archives, but are often affected by intensive tectonics. During this study, to obtain a robust regional paleoenvironmental signal a small river system in the southwestern Binaloud Mountains in semi-arid NE Iran was exemplarily studied with a combined approach that encompassed both alluvial fan and catchment. By using geomorphological mapping and numerical dating, fluvial aggradation followed by incision was independently identified in larger areas or in different parts of the river system ca. 95–88 ka, 40 ka, 20 ka, around/after the Pleistocene/Holocene transition and possibly ca. 2.6 ka. These could be linked with regional and over-regional paleoenvironmental data. Furthermore, large boulders on the alluvial fan suggest anthropogenic destabilisation of the catchment during the last decades. Despite strong local tectonics the fluvial dynamics was mostly controlled by paleoenvironmental changes and human activity. This indicates that despite their small size, such river systems form valuable paleoenvironmental archives in drylands where other archive types are largely missing.