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Bar deposition in glacial outburst floods: scaling, post-flood reworking, and implications for the geomorphological and sedimentary recordThe appearance of a flood deposit in the geomorphological and sedimentary record is a product of the both the processes operating during the flood, and those that occur afterwards and overprinting the deposit with a record of ‘normal’ processes. Nearly half of the total discharge of the November 1996 jökulhlaup on Skeiðarársandur was discharged through the Skeiðará river. The flood deposits have been extensively reworked since, up until 2009 when the channel was abandoned, effectively leaving the Skeiðará as a terrace, when retreat of Skeiðarárjökull directed meltwater to the adjacent Gígjukvísl river system. This paper describes the creation and modification of jökulhlaup barforms in the Skeiðará river, relating the changes to post-flood fluvial processes and glacier retreat. Large compound bars formed from the amalgamation of unit bars up to 1.5 km long. The location of the compound bars was governed by the macro-scale topography of the flood channel, and their size by upstream channel width in accordance with bar-scaling theory. Jökulhlaup bars are therefore scale invariant and formed in a similar fashion to braid bars in non-jökulhlaup braided rivers. Post-flood fragmentation and reworking of the bars consistently increased the length-width ratio of preserved bar fragments from approximately two and one half to over five. These observations increase our understanding of the preservation potential and final form of jökulhlaup deposits and provide the basis for an improved model for the recognition of jökulhlaup deposits in the geomorphological and sedimentary record.
Channel pattern of proglacial rivers: topographic forcing due to glacier retreatGlacier retreat leads to changes in channel pattern during deglaciation, in response to changing water, sediment and base level controls. Recent ongoing retreat at Skaftafellsjökull, Iceland (c. 50m per year since 1998) has resulted in the formation of a sequence of river terraces, and several changes in river channel pattern. This paper compares widely used models of river channel pattern against the changes observed at Skaftafellsjökull. Doing this reveals the role of topographic forcing in determining proglacial channel pattern, whilst examining the predictive power and limitations of the various approaches to classifying river channels. Topography was found to play a large role in determining channel pattern in proglacial environments for two reasons: firstly, glacier retreat forces rivers to flow through confined moraine reaches. In these reaches, channels which theory predicts should be braided are forced to adopt a single channel. Secondly, proximal incision of proglacial rivers, accompanied by downstream aggradation, leads to changes in slope which force the river to cross channel pattern thresholds. The findings of this work indicate that in the short term, the majority of channel pattern change in proglacial rivers is due to topographic forcing, and that changes due to changing hydrology and sediment supply are initially relatively minor, although likely to increase in significance as deglaciation progresses. These findings have implications for palaeohydraulic studies, where changes in proglacial channel pattern are frequently interpretedas being due to changes in water or sediment supply. This paper shows that channel pattern can change at timescales faster than hydrological or sediment budget changes usually occur, in association with relatively minor changes in glacier mass balance.
Iceberg jam floods in Icelandic proglacial rivers: testing the self-organized criticality hypothesisIn this paper, we describe a fluvial marginal process associated with the formation of iceberg jams in Icelandic proglacial lakes. The floods triggered by the release of these iceberg jams have implications for the geomorphic evolution of the proglacial fluvial system. The process of iceberg jam floods share some conceptual characteristics with Self-Organized Criticality (SOC) approach of complex systems. Using a simple numerical model and field observations, we test the hypothesis that iceberg jam floods exhibit SOC. Field observations and aerial photo-interpretations in southeastern Iceland demonstrate the occurrence of icebergs jam in ice-contact lakes. The mapping of the south Vatnajökull margins between 2003 and 2012 reveals an increase of the calving potentiality and a rise in the likelihood of iceberg jam flood occurrence. Based on the results of the numerical model and field observations, we suggest that iceberg jam floods should be recognized as a SOC phenomenon. Analysis of the simulated time-series show that the iceberg jam floods become less frequent and more similar in magnitude over time. This global trend is related to the gradual enlargement of the lake outlet channel.