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Evrard O.,University Of Grenoble Unite Mixte Of Recherche 5564 Cnrs | Navratil O.,University Of Grenoble Unite Mixte Of Recherche 5564 Cnrs | Navratil O.,IRSTEA | Ayrault S.,University Of Grenoble Unite Mixte Of Recherche 5564 Cnrs | And 7 more authors.
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms | Year: 2011

An excess of fine sediment (grain size <2mm) supply to rivers leads to reservoir siltation, water contamination and operational problems for hydroelectric power plants in many catchments of the world, such as in the French Alps. These problems are exacerbated in mountainous environments characterized by large sediment exports during very short periods. This study combined river flow records, sediment geochemistry and associated radionuclide concentrations as input properties to a Monte Carlo mixing model to quantify the contribution of different geologic sources to river sediment. Overall, between 2007 and 2009, erosion rates reached 249±75t km-2 yr-1 at the outlet of the Bléone catchment, but this mean value masked important spatial variations of erosion intensity within the catchment (85-5000t km-2 yr-1). Quantifying the contribution of different potential sources to river sediment required the application of sediment fingerprinting using a Monte Carlo mixing model. This model allowed the specific contributions of different geological sub-types (i.e. black marls, marly limestones, conglomerates and Quaternary deposits) to be determined. Even though they generate locally very high erosion rates, black marls supplied only a minor fraction (5-20%) of the fine sediment collected on the riverbed in the vicinity of the 907km2 catchment outlet. The bulk of sediment was provided by Quaternary deposits (21-66%), conglomerates (3-44%) and limestones (9-27%). Even though bioengineering works conducted currently to stabilize gullies in black marl terrains are undoubtedly useful to limit sediment supply to the Bléone river, erosion generated by other substrate sources dominated between 2007 and 2009 in this catchment. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Source

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