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How a river submerges into the sea

A geological record of changing a fluvial to a marine paleoenvironment during early Holocene sea level rise
: Hepp, D.A.; Romero, O.E.; Mörz, T.; Pol-Holz, R. De; Hebbeln, D.

Fulltext ()

Journal of quaternary science 34 (2019), No.7, pp.581-592
ISSN: 1099-1417
ISSN: 0267-8179
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IWES ()

Coastal seas, and in particular estuarine systems, were significantly affected by Quaternary sea level changes. Furthermore, the dynamics of shelf and coastal evolution have had a strong impact on coastal landscapes inhabited by humans. The postglacial evolution of the vast North Sea shelf with its huge drainage systems, e.g. the Elbe Paleovalley and its tributary system, is an excellent research target to understand how coastal shelf environments change in response to sea level rise. In this study, we investigate infill sediments of the Paleo‐Ems valley – a drowned extension of the modern Ems River and part of the Elbe Paleovalley drainage system. Radiocarbon‐dated transgression sequences provide several new observations regarding the mode and rate of the river system submerging due to the Holocene transgression. Thus, the Paleo‐Ems valley submerged within a short time span of~200 years since the river was not able to adjust its gradient to the rapid rising sea level. The fate of the Paleo‐Ems is exemplary for the rapid change of a former fluvial landscape into a coastal landscape and finally into a submarine seascape.