A new model of river dynamics, hydroclimatic change and human settlement in the Nile Valley derived from meta-analysis of the Holocene fluvial archive

Macklin, Mark G. and Toonen, Willem H. J. and Woodward, Jamie C. and Williams, Martin A. J. and Flaux, Clement and Marriner, Nick and Nicoll, Kathleen and Verstraeten, Gert and Spencer, Neal and Welsby, Derek (2015) A new model of river dynamics, hydroclimatic change and human settlement in the Nile Valley derived from meta-analysis of the Holocene fluvial archive. Quaternary Science Reviews, 130 . pp. 109-123. ISSN 0277-3791

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Abstract

In the Nile catchment, a growing number of site- and reach-based studies employ radiocarbon and, more recently, OSL dating to reconstruct Holocene river histories, but there has been no attempt to critically evaluate and synthesise these data at the catchment scale. We present the first meta-analysis of published and publically available radiocarbon and OSL dated Holocene fluvial units in the Nile catchment, including the delta region, and relate this to changing climate and river dynamics. Dated fluvial units are separated both geographically (into the Nile Delta and White, Blue, and Desert Nile sub-regions) and into depositional environment (floodplain and palaeochannel fills). Cumulative probability density frequency (CPDF) plots of floodplain and palaeochannel units show a striking inverse relationship during the Holocene, reflecting abrupt (<100 years) climate-related changes in flooding regime. The CPDF plot of dated floodplain units is interpreted as a record of over-bank river flows, whilst the CPDF plot of palaeochannel units reflect periods of major flooding associated with channel abandonment and contraction, as well as transitions to multi-centennial length episodes of greater aridity and low river flow. This analysis has identified major changes in river flow and dynamics in the Nile catchment with phases of channel and floodplain contraction at c. 6150–5750, 4400–4150, 3700–3450, 2700–2250, 1350–900, 800–550 cal. BC and cal. AD 1600, timeframes that mark shifts to new hydrological and geomorphological regimes. We discuss the impacts of these changing hydromorphological regimes upon riverine civilizations in the Nile Valley.

Keywords:Nile catchment and delta, Holocene climate change, Flooding, Drought, Channel and floodplain contraction phases, River civilizations
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F810 Environmental Geography
F Physical Sciences > F840 Physical Geography
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
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ID Code:31612
Deposited On:20 Apr 2018 10:41

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