The mid-Holocene to present large-scale morphodynamic and coupled fluvial-tidal sedimentologic evolution of the Lower Columbia River, WA/OR, USA
Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 16:30
2005 (Moscone West)
Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of four deep sediment cores (≤ 20m depth), in conjunction with shallow vibracores (≤ 6m depth), obtained from mid-channel bars in the lower Columbia River (LCR), USA, provides new insights into the mid-Holocene to present geomorphic and coupled sedimentological evolution of the LCR fluvial-tidal zone. These data reveal that the relatively coarse-grained basal sediments of mid-channel bars positioned across the LCR tidal-fluvial hydraulic regime were deposited at c. 2.5 to 2.0 ka, and not at c. 8.0 ka as previously reported. Thus, these younger depositional ages of basal sediments relative to previous studies coupled with the overall sedimentary architecture of these bars, and the absence of a temporal lag in the timing of basal sedimentation between bars located from river kilometer 51.1 to 29.3, challenges existing models that these bars represent: (a) estuarine tidal-bars, or (b) bay-head deltaic deposits. Within the context of post glacial Holocene sea-level rise, our results suggest these bars represent vertical construction of a LCR fluvial top-set from c. 2.5- 2.0 ka to the present, as the regional rate of sea-level rise slowed to ≤ 1.4 mmyr-1. Within this geomorphic context, two tidal-fluvial sedimentological signatures can be identified: (i) in the downstream direction, basal bar deposits incorporate a larger percentage of finer-grained interbeds, and (ii) vertically stacked silt/very-fine sand draped current ripple cross-laminae become prevalent from approximately 5 m in depth to the bar surfaces. The preservation of finer-grained interbeds within basal bar deposits is reasoned to be caused by the flocculation and settling of suspended sediment enhanced by the turbidity maximum. The stacked draped current ripple cross-laminae are interpreted to result from tidal-currents generating asymmetric current ripples that were draped by fine-sediment entrained by wind-waves, which fell-out of suspension during reduced wave activity, slackwater intervals, and periods when the turbidity maximum was active.