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Landscape Sensitivity to Climate: Debris Flow Fans in Owens Valley, California

By: Mitch D'Arcy, Postdoc, GFZ/Potsdam University

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Many uncertainties exist about how sensitive landscapes are to climate, and whether climate changes leave behind characteristic signals in basin sediments. In this talk, I will present a case study based on debris flows fan deposits in Owens Valley, California. These deposits capture the past 125,000 years of sedimentation activity and clearly record past climate changes in their grain size distributions. I will characterise the nature of this climate signal, and explore potential explanations for it involving changes in sediment supply and mobilisation. This case study reveals that landscapes with rapid sediment transfer can, in some cases, be highly sensitive to climatic forcing over glacial-interglacial timescales. It also highlights the the importance of threshold-surpassing events, such as debris flows and intense storms, for understanding landscapes and and their sedimentary products.

Host: Pedro DiNezio, UTIG

When: Fri Mar 3, 2017 11:30am – 12:30pm Central Time