Sediment transport dynamics linked to morphological evolution of the Selenga River delta, Lake Baikal, Russia

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Tian Yang Dong, Rice Univ, Houston, TX, United States, Jeffrey Nittrouer, Rice University, Houston, TX, United States, Brandon J McElroy, University of Wyoming, Geology and Geophysics, Laramie, WY, United States, Matthew John Czapiga, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Urbana, IL, United States, Elena Il'icheva, V.B Sochava Institute of Geography Siberian Branch Russian Academy of Science, Laboratory of Hydrology and Climatology, Irkutsk, Russia, Maksim Pavolv, Geospectrum, St.Petersburg, Russia and Gary Parker, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Urbana, IL, United States
The Selenga River delta, Lake Baikal, Russia, is approximately 700 km2 in size and contains three active lobes that receive varying amounts of water and sediment discharge. This delta represents a unique end-member in so far that the system is positioned along the deep-water (~1500 m) margin of Lake Baikal and therefore exists as a shelf-edge delta. In order to evaluate the morphological dynamics of the Selenga delta, field expeditions were undertaken during July 2013 and 2014, to investigate the morphologic, sedimentologic, and hydraulic nature of this delta system. Single-beam bathymetry data, sidescan sonar data, sediment samples, and aerial survey data were collected and analyzed to constrain: 1) channel geometries within the delta, 2) bedform sizes and spatial distributions, 3) grain size composition of channel bed sediment as well as bank sediment, collected from both major and minor distributary channels, and 4) elevation range of the subaerial portion of the delta. Our data indicate that the delta possesses downstream sediment fining, ranging from predominantly gravel and sand near the delta apex to silt and sand at the delta-lake interface. Field surveys also indicate that the Selenga delta has both eroding and aggrading banks, and that the delta is actively incising into some banks that consist of terraces, which are defined as regions that are not inundated by typical 2- to 4-year flood discharge events. Therefore the terraces are distinct from the actively accreting regions of the delta that receive sedimentation via water inundation during regular river floods. We spatially constrain the regions of the Selenga delta that are inundated during floods versus terraced using a 1-D water-surface hydrodynamic model that produces estimates of stage for flood water discharges, whereby local water surface elevations produced with the model are compared to the measured terrestrial elevations. Our analyses show that terrace elevations steadily decrease downstream for all lobes, and that the delta is undergoing an active phase of erosion, characterized by channel incision and extensive lateral erosion of terraces; this process of delta ‘self-cannibalization’ contributes to the downstream sediment flux and morphological evolution of the delta.