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Fluvial evolution of the Rhine during the last interglacial-glacial cycle in the southern North Sea basin: A review and look forward
Peeters, J.; Busschers, F.S.; Stouthamer, E. (2015). Fluvial evolution of the Rhine during the last interglacial-glacial cycle in the southern North Sea basin: A review and look forward. Quaternary International 357: 176-188.
In: Quaternary International. Elsevier: Oxford. ISSN 1040-6182, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Eemian interglacial; Incised-valley fill; Lower-delta; Preservation (potential); Sedimentary architecture

Authors  Top 
  • Peeters, J.
  • Busschers, F.S.
  • Stouthamer, E.

    This paper presents the current state of knowledge on the evolution and depositional history of the River Rhine in the southern part of the North Sea basin during the upper Middle and Late Pleistocene, and its response to climate change, sea-level oscillation and glacio-isostasy. The study focuses on the development of the Eemian interglacial lower-delta in the central Netherlands and its relation to records of climate and sea-level rise, and uses the Saalian and Weichselian pre- and postdating periods to place its development in context.The Rhine fluvial system fills the gradually subsiding North Sea basin, but its development has strongly been affected by the Saalian glaciation and its remaining topography. Ice-pushed ridges originating off the limit of maximum glaciation basically divided the central Netherlands into two sedimentary depocentres: a central depocentre within the former ice-limit, and a southern depocentre south of it.The sedimentary record of the central depocentre, including an incised-valley fill, shows a 20–40 m thick stacked sequence consisting of three units. The incised-valley fill consists of a Late Saalian to early Eemian age lower fluvial unit and a Weichselian age upper fluvial unit, both composed of coarse-grained channel deposits. Sandwiched in-between is a 5–15 m thick record composed of fine-grained fluvial and estuarine (tidal) floodbasin and shallow-marine deposits. It is of Eemian interglacial and Early Weichselian age, and comprises transgressive and highstand deposits that show the drowning of a fluvial system. Inland parts transformed from fluvial to deltaic and estuarine environments, and the most downstream parts transformed to a shallow-marine embayment. Preservation of these units occurred, despite considerable sea-level fall and climate-controlled erosion taking place in the last-glacial. Preservation potential was increased by the fact that the Rhine system avulsed away to the southern depocentre, halfway the Weichselian Pleniglacial. Consequently, the infill of the southern depocentre is of an entire different nature, and last-interglacial transgressive or highstand units are hardly preserved.Because of glaciation and resulting depocentre configuration, the Netherlands in NW Europe thus offers a very good opportunity to study the transgressive interglacial lower-deltaic records and falling-stage preservation thereof – both key elements for understanding sedimentary development over full 100-ky glacial-interglacial cycles of climate and base-level change.

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