Modelling the drainage evolution of a river-shelf system forced by Quaternary glacio-eustasy
The Quaternary glaciations had a profound impact on the geomorphology and stratigraphy of passive continental margins. The challenge is to resolve the contributions of the main forcing controls relative sea-level change and sediment flux. The key to answer this question is to understand the interaction between the marine and terrestrial environments, where river dynamics play an essential role. A comprehensible three-dimensional numerical model is presented in order to investigate quantitatively the behaviour of river-shelf sedimentary systems under glacio-eustatic conditions. Distinctive features observed in the model results include river avulsion, delta-lobe switching, incision and knickpoint migration. An important event in the development of the modelled river-shelf system is the establishment of a direct and inextricable link between the drainage basin and the depocentre onthe shelf edge, thereby bypassing the exposed shelf. This is termed as \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'drainage connection\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'. In the model, the timing of drainage connection occurs over a broad interval when the model run is repeated many times with small differences in the initial topography, reflecting the sensitivity of the system to its initial state. It demonstrates the inherent variability in the evolution of a sedimentary system as a consequence of non-linear behaviour. A statistical approach to modelling is suggested in order to deal with this problem.