Assessing morphological, climatic and structural factors controlling water discharge and sediment load of rivers flowing from the Sierra Madre de Chiapas to the Pacific Coast (Southern Mexico)
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The Sierra Madre de Chiapas (SMC) is a steep mountain range located in the south-western part of Mexico with elevations higher than 2000 m. The SMC is ~30 km off the Pacific Coast and it is oriented parallel to the coast. The annual rainfall exceeds 6 m and most of this takes place during summer season when low-pressure systems and cyclones are frequent. The rivers in SMC incise into the granite and transport large volumes of sediment. Even though rivers can be regarded as bedrock bedrock channels these suddenly change to alluvial–type rivers when these flow in the coastal plain which is ~10 km from the headwater of rivers. There are not data available of the sediment yield of rivers, however, the well–broad coastal plain and the wide continental shelf suggest that the sediment transport from the mountain area to the lowlands is significantly high. Here we assess the main morphological, climatic and structural factors controlling water discharge and sediment load of the rivers flowing from the SMC to the Pacific Coast by means of (1) topographical analysis on a high-resolution DEM, (2) grain–size and OSL analysis on sediment extracted from the riverbed of the main rivers and (3) time-series analysis from the available data of sediment discharge and sediment load. Our results indicate that the river incision and sediment transport is particularly high at the southern sector of the SMC where the topographic and climatic factors promote higher erosion rates.