ISLA Federico Ignacio
Avulsion at a drift-dominated mesotidal estuary: The Chubut River outlet, Patagonia, Argentina
ISLA, F; ESPINOSA, M. A; RUBIO BELÉN; ESCANDELL ALEJANDRA; GERPE, MARCELA; MIGLIORANZA, K.; REY DANIEL; VILAS, F
JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Lugar: Amsterdam; Año: 2015 vol. 529 p. 632 - 639
The Chubut River flows from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean, and is interrupted by a single dam constructed at the Middle valley. The lower valley is dominated by the aggradation of an alluvial plain induced by a complex of spits that enclosed the inlet in the last 5000 years. The river has reduced its flow since the blocking of the upper basin by terminal moraines during the Upper Pleistocene. At least the last two marine transgressions have flooded this estuary, and contributed to the aggradation during regressions. The area is of particular interest in regard to irrigation channels practiced since the XIX century. Today, the mean monthly flow is less than 10 m3/s although peaks of 95 m3/s have been recorded in Gaiman in July 2001 The dynamics of the estuary is dominated by waves (wave-dominated estuary) as tidal effects attenuate in less than 5 km. Three vibracores were collected within this floodplain: a) at Gaiman, an area without any effect of the sea (37 km from the coast); b) at Trelew, at the former avulsion plain of the river (18 km from the coast), and c) at Playa Magagna, a saltmarsh located 1 km from the beach. a) At the Gaiman core (1.54 m long) fresh-water epiphytic diatoms dominate (Epithemia sorex, Cocconeis placentula, Ulnaria ulna) suggesting the aggradation of an alluvial plain. b) The Trelew core (2.19 m long) was collected from a deltaic plain. It was composed by fine sand with organic matter at the base that evolved into silty layers to the top. Several unconformities and laminae with heavy minerals were detected by their geochemical composition analysed by micro X-ray fluorescence (Itrax XRF core scanner). Fine-sand laminated layers were perfectly detected by their high content in S and Cl. On the other hand, mud layers presented lower content in Mg and Al with increments in Ca and V. c) The core from the marsh area (1.67 m long) was analyzed in terms of the diatom evolution in order to detect Holocene sea-level and salinity effects. The sand flats from the bottom of the core were dominated by Nitzchia navicularis (mesohalobous and benthic taxa) and evolved into mixed flats, mudflats and marshes to the top. Sharp contacts have been detected between these facies, with wavy and lenticular bedding characterising the mixed flat deposits. The middle of the sequence is dominated by a coastal marine diatom (Paralia sulcata) while the top was dominated by Pinnularia borealis, an aerophilous and brackish/freshwater taxa.