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One thousand seven hundred years of interaction between glacial activity and flood frequency in proglacial Lake Muzelle (western French Alps)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 May 2017

Laurent Fouinat*
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université Savoie Mont Blanc–CNRS, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac Cedex, France
Pierre Sabatier
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université Savoie Mont Blanc–CNRS, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac Cedex, France
Jérôme Poulenard
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université Savoie Mont Blanc–CNRS, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac Cedex, France
David Etienne
Affiliation:
CARRTEL, Université Savoie Mont Blanc, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac, France
Christian Crouzet
Affiliation:
ISTERRE, Université Savoie Mont Blanc–CNRS, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac, France
Anne-Lise Develle
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université Savoie Mont Blanc–CNRS, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac Cedex, France
Elise Doyen
Affiliation:
INRAP, 51520 Saint-Martin sur-le-Pré, France
Emmanuel Malet
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université Savoie Mont Blanc–CNRS, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac Cedex, France
Jean-Louis Reyss
Affiliation:
LSCE, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin CEA-CNRS, Avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
Clotilde Sagot
Affiliation:
Parc National des Ecrins, Domaine de Charance, 05000 Gap, France
Richard Bonet
Affiliation:
Parc National des Ecrins, Domaine de Charance, 05000 Gap, France
Fabien Arnaud
Affiliation:
EDYTEM, Université Savoie Mont Blanc–CNRS, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac Cedex, France
*
*Corresponding author at: EDYTEM, Université Savoie Mont Blanc–CNRS, 73376 Le Bourget-du-Lac Cedex, France. E-mail: Laurent.fouinat@univ-smb.fr (L. Fouinat).

Abstract

Local glacial fluctuations and flood occurrences were investigated in the sediment sequence of proglacial Lake Muzelle. Based on geochemical analysis and organic matter content established using loss on ignition and reflectance spectroscopy, we identified six periods of increased glacial activity over the last 1700 yr. Each is in accordance with records from reference glaciers in the Alps. A total of 255 graded layers were identified and interpreted as flood deposits. Most of these occurred during glacial advances such as the Little Ice Age period and exhibit thicker deposits characterized by an increase in the fine grain-size fraction. Fine sediment produced by glacial activity is transported to the proglacial lake during heavy rainfall events. The excess of glacial flour during these periods seems to increase the watershed’s tendency to produce flood deposits in the lake sediment, suggesting a strong influence of the glacier on flood reconstruction records. Thus, both flood frequency and intensity, which is estimated based on layer thickness as a proxy, cannot be used in reconstruction of past extreme events because of their variability. There is a need to take into account changes in sediment supply in proglacial areas that could preclude satisfactory interpretation of floods in terms of past climate variability.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2017 

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