Preservation of the last aggradation phase in climate‐driven terraces: Evidence from Late Quaternary reach‐specific fluvial dynamics of the Allier River (France)

A. Veldkamp*, J.M. Schoorl, L.F.G. Claessens, A.J.A.M. Temme, A.G.M. Broers, T.L. van Orsouw, Monique Voesten, T. Reimann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There is limited knowledge about the preservation of aggradation phases in Quaternary fluvial records. Previous numerical modelling of erosion and deposition in Late Quaternary Allier River (France) generated the prediction that this river has reach‐specific fluvial dynamics related to climate‐driven tributary sediment‐flux dynamics. To test this prediction, new optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) samples were collected of the Late Quaternary Fx terrace at five locations along a stretch of 60 km. OSL dates of both quartz and feldspar sand grains indicate that all relatively basalt‐poor sediments display significantly different ages for each reach (ranging from 36.3 ± 2.0 to 21.1 ± 2.3 ka). The more basalt‐rich terrace body consistently yields ages in the range 21.1 ± 1.7 to 16.1 ± 1.5 ka, suggesting contemporaneous aggradation along the whole studied Allier reach during this interval. Our own new OSL date of a Tartaret eruption around 16.8 ± 2.5 ka also fits this time window, suggesting a direct link with volcanic activity. However, there are many more dated volcanic events that coincide with the older basalt‐poor units, making it less likely that a direct link between terrace‐sediment basalt content and volcanic activity exists. The timings of the dated depositional events in MIS 3 and 2 all match with simulated climate drivers and published landscape erosion rates. Counterintuitively, the volcanic Chaîne des Puys area supplied more sediment during the cold and dry Last Glacial Maximum. Basalt content in the Allier terrace sediments reflects climate‐related sediment‐flux dynamics upstream. The scarcity of older basalt‐poor sediment bodies from MIS 4 and 3 in the Fx terrace suggests that less sediment was supplied and/or the intermittent erosional phases in the Allier were very effective at removing them. We hypothesize that this observation of predominant preservation of the last aggradation phase could be a common phenomenon in most climate‐driven terraces. © 2020 The Authors. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3381-3395
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number13
Early online date4 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • aggradation
  • erosion rate
  • numerical model
  • pattern-oriented sampling
  • preservation
  • Quaternary
  • river terrace
  • sediment supply
  • volcanism


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