Publications by authors named "Charles A Nittrouer"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Amazon Sediment Transport and Accumulation Along the Continuum of Mixed Fluvial and Marine Processes.

Ann Rev Mar Sci 2021 01 7;13:501-536. Epub 2020 Jul 7.

School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA; email:

Sediment transfer from land to ocean begins in coastal settings and, for large rivers such as the Amazon, has dramatic impacts over thousands of kilometers covering diverse environmental conditions. In the relatively natural Amazon tidal river, combinations of fluvial and marine processes transition toward the ocean, affecting the transport and accumulation of sediment in floodplains and tributary mouths. The enormous discharge of Amazon fresh water causes estuarine processes to occur on the continental shelf, where much sediment accumulation creates a large clinoform structure and where additional sediment accumulates along its shoreward boundary in tidal flats and mangrove forests. Some remaining Amazon sediment is transported beyond the region near the river mouth, and fluvial forces on it diminish. Numerous perturbations to Amazon sediment transport and accumulation occur naturally, but human actions will likely dominate future change, and now is the time to document, understand, and mitigate their impacts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060457DOI Listing
January 2021

Eighty years of food-web response to interannual variation in discharge recorded in river diatom frustules from an ocean sediment core.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2017 09 5;114(38):10155-10159. Epub 2017 Sep 5.

Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720;

Little is known about the importance of food-web processes as controls of river primary production due to the paucity of both long-term studies and of depositional environments which would allow retrospective fossil analysis. To investigate how freshwater algal production in the Eel River, northern California, varied over eight decades, we quantified siliceous shells (frustules) of freshwater diatoms from a well-dated undisturbed sediment core in a nearshore marine environment. Abundances of freshwater diatom frustules exported to Eel Canyon sediment from 1988 to 2001 were positively correlated with annual biomass of surveyed over these years in upper portions of the Eel basin. Over 28 years of contemporary field research, peak algal biomass was generally higher in summers following bankfull, bed-scouring winter floods. Field surveys and experiments suggested that bed-mobilizing floods scour away overwintering grazers, releasing algae from spring and early summer grazing. During wet years, growth conditions for algae could also be enhanced by increased nutrient loading from the watershed, or by sustained summer base flows. Total annual rainfall and frustule densities in laminae over a longer 83-year record were weakly and negatively correlated, however, suggesting that positive effects of floods on annual algal production were primarily mediated by "top-down" (consumer release) rather than "bottom-up" (growth promoting) controls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1611884114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5617238PMC
September 2017

210Pb geochronology of flood events in large tropical river systems.

Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci 2012 May;370(1966):2040-74

Department of Geography, University of Exeter, Exeter EX44RJ, UK.

Floodplain sedimentation removes particles from fluvial transport and constructs stratigraphic records of flooding, biogeochemical sequestration and other aspects of the environmental history of river basins-insight that is enhanced by accurate geochronology. The natural fallout radionuclide (210)Pb, often employed to date lacustrine and marine sediments, has previously been used to determine floodplain accumulation rates over decadal-to-century time scales using the assumption that both input concentration and sediment accumulation rates are constant. We test this model in approximately 110 cores of pristine floodplains along approximately 2000 km of the Rios Beni and Mamore in northern Bolivia; over 95 per cent of the (210)Pb profiles depict individual episodic deposition events, not steady-state accumulation, requiring a revised geochronological methodology. Discrete measurements of down-core, clay-normalized adsorbed excess (210)Pb activity are coupled with a new conceptual model of (210)Pb input during floods: constant initial reach clay activity, unknown sedimentation (CIRCAUS). This enhanced methodology yields (210)Pb dates that correspond well with (i) dates determined from meteoric caps, (ii) observed dates of river bar formation, (iii) known flood dates, and (iv) dates from nearby cores along the same transect. Similar results have been found for other large rivers. The CIRCAUS method for geochronology therefore offers a flexible and accurate method for dating both episodic (decadal recurrence frequency) and constant (annual recurrence) sediment accumulation on floodplains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2011.0607DOI Listing
May 2012

Episodic sediment accumulation on Amazonian flood plains influenced by El Niño/Southern Oscillation.

Nature 2003 Oct;425(6957):493-7

Quaternary Research Center University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.

Continental-scale rivers with a sandy bed sequester a significant proportion of their sediment load in flood plains. The spatial extent and depths of such deposits have been described, and flood-plain accumulation has been determined at decadal timescales, but it has not been possible to identify discrete events or to resolve deposition on near-annual timescales. Here we analyse (210)Pb activity profiles from sediment cores taken in the pristine Beni and Mamore river basins, which together comprise 720,000 km2 of the Amazon basin, to investigate sediment accumulation patterns in the Andean-Amazonian foreland. We find that in most locations, sediment stratigraphy is dominated by discrete packages of sediments of uniform age, which are typically 20-80 cm thick, with system-wide recurrence intervals of about 8 yr, indicating relatively rare episodic deposition events. Ocean temperature and stream flow records link these episodic events to rapidly rising floods associated with La Niña events, which debouch extraordinary volumes of sediments from the Andes. We conclude that transient processes driven by the El Niño/Southern Oscillation cycle control the formation of the Bolivian flood plains and modulate downstream delivery of sediments as well as associated carbon, nutrients and pollutants to the Amazon main stem.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature02002DOI Listing
October 2003
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