Source-to-sink analysis in an active extensional setting:Holocene erosion and deposition in the Sperchios rift, central Greece
S. Pechlivanidou, P.A. Cowie, B. Hannisdal, A.C. Whittaker, R.L. Gawthorpe, C. Pennos and O.S. Riiser
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 30, No 3, June 2018 pp. 522 - 543
Info: Article, PDF ( 7.5Mb )
We present a source-to-sink analysis to explain sediment supply variations and depositional patterns over the Holocene within an active rift setting. We integrate a range of modelling approaches and data types with field observations from the Sperchios rift basin, Central Greece that allow us to analyse and quantify (1) the size and characteristics of sediment source areas, (2) the dynamics of the sediment routing system from upstream fluvial processes to downstream deposition at the coastline, and (3) the depositional architecture and volumes of the Holocene basin fill. We demonstrate that the Sperchios rift comprises a ‘closed’ system over the Holocene and that erosional and depositional volumes are thus balanced. Furthermore, we evaluate key controls in the development of this source-tosink system, including the role of pre-existing topography, bedrock erodibility and lateral variations in the rate of tectonic uplift/subsidence. We show that tectonic subsidence alone can explain the observed grain size fining along the rift axis resulting in the downstream transition from a braided channel to an extensive meander belt (>15 km long) that feeds the fine-grained Sperchios delta. Additionally, we quantify the ratios of sediment storage to bypass for the two main footwall-sourced alluvial fan systems and relate the fan characteristics to the pattern and rates of fault slip. Finally, we show that ≥40% of the sediment that builds the Sperchios delta is supplied by ≤22% of the entire source area and that this can be primarily attributed to a longer-term (~106 years) transient landscape response to fault segment linkage. Our multidisciplinary approach allows us to quantify the relative importance of multiple factors that control a complex source-to-sink system and thus improve our understanding of landscape evolution and stratigraphic development in active extensional tectonic settings.