Temporal variability in detrital 10Be concentrations in a large Himalayan catchment

Elizabeth H. Dingle, Hugh D. Sinclair, Mikaël Attal, Ángel Rodés, Vimal Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Accurately quantifying sediment fluxes in large rivers draining tectonically active landscapes is complicated by the stochastic nature of sediment inputs. Cosmogenic 10Be concentrations measured in modern river sands have been used to estimate 102- to 104-year sediment fluxes in these types of catchments, where upstream drainage areas are often in excess of 10000km2. It is commonly assumed that within large catchments, the effects of stochastic sediment inputs are buffered such that 10Be concentrations at the catchment outlet are relatively stable in time. We present 18 new 10Be concentrations of modern river and dated Holocene terrace and floodplain deposits from the Ganga River near to the Himalayan mountain front (or outlet). We demonstrate that 10Be concentrations measured in modern Ganga River sediments display a notable degree of variability, with concentrations ranging between  ∼ 9000 and 19000atomsg−1. We propose that this observed variability is driven by two factors. Firstly, by the nature of stochastic inputs of sediment (e.g. the dominant erosional process, surface production rates, depth of landsliding, degree of mixing) and, secondly, by the evacuation timescale of individual sediment deposits which buffer their impact on catchment-averaged concentrations. Despite intensification of the Indian Summer Monsoon and subsequent doubling of sediment delivery to the Bay of Bengal between  ∼ 11 and 7ka, we also find that Holocene sediment 10Be concentrations documented at the Ganga outlet have remained within the variability of modern river concentrations. We demonstrate that, in certain systems, sediment flux cannot be simply approximated by converting detrital concentration into mean erosion rates and multiplying by catchment area as it is possible to generate larger volumetric sediment fluxes whilst maintaining comparable average 10Be concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-635
JournalEarth Surface Dynamics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2018


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