EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Feldspar luminescence signal of modern fluvial sediments as a proxy for erosion rates? 

Anne Guyez1, Stephane Bonnet1, Tony Reimann2, clare wilkinson3, Sebastien Carretier1, Kevin Norton4, and Jakob Wallinga5
Anne Guyez et al.
  • 1CNRS, Geosciences Environment Toulouse, Toulouse, France (
  • 2University of Cologne, Institute of Geography, Geomorphology & Geochronology, Germany
  • 3School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand
  • 4School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand 6140
  • 5Netherlands Center for Luminescence Dating & Soil Geography and Landscape group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Documenting and quantifying sediment transport in natural system, especially over millennial timescale, is still challenging. Among potential new approaches, recent development has shown that luminescence signal could be used to estimate transport parameters in rivers such as virtual velocity of sediments, storage time or sediment sources (McGuire & Rhodes, 2015; Gray et al., 2018; Gray et al., 2019; Sawakuchi et al., 2018; Guyez et al., 2022).

In this study, we focus on the factors controlling post-infrared feldspar luminescence signals (pIRIR) of modern fluvial sediments in upstream areas. The objective is to examine whether pIRIR equivalent dose distributions relate to landscape erosion rates and associated sediment fluxes. To test this hypothesis, we studied catchments in the Southern Alps of New Zealand (SANZ), one of the world’s most active mountain ranges, with extremely high rates of exhumation and erosion.

For eight catchments of the SANZ, we compared the single-grain pIRIR equivalent dose distributions from modern fluvial sediments with catchment-wide erosion rates obtained using measurements of 10Be cosmogenic nuclide concentration in modern fluvial quartz grains. The latter approach is widely used to quantify catchment-wide erosion rates on millennial time scales.

Using the cosmogenic methods, we found catchment-wide erosion rates ranging from 0.2 to 4.0 mm/yr. The rates increased along the mountain range from South-West to North-East, confirming results by Larsen et al. (2014), and may reflect a tectonic uplift gradient related to northward segmentation of the Alpine fault. In addition, erosion rates on the Western side were higher than the Eastern side, which we attribute to the climatic gradient of the SANZ, related to orographic effect.

We measured single-grain pIRIR equivalent dose (De) distributions at the outlet of each catchment. We calculated (1) the fraction of grains whose luminescence signal is saturated (Bonnet et al., 2019; Guyez et al., 2022), (2) the fraction of well-bleached grains. We also characterized the De distribution using (3) the central age model (CAM; Galbraith et al., 1999) and (4) the bootstrapped minimum age model (BS-MAM; Cunningham & Wallinga, 2012). We found a relationship between those four proxies and erosion rates obtained from 10Be, as well as with suspended sediment yield (Adams, 1980; Hicks et al., 2011) and channel steepness index.

Our study shows that single grain pIRIR equivalent dose distributions reflect erosion and sediment fluxes of a catchment. This new property could be further developed with the perspective to use this proxy as a new independent tool to quantify erosion and transport processes in a wide range of fluvial settings on time scales shorter than cosmogenic methods.

How to cite: Guyez, A., Bonnet, S., Reimann, T., wilkinson, C., Carretier, S., Norton, K., and Wallinga, J.: Feldspar luminescence signal of modern fluvial sediments as a proxy for erosion rates? , EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-3135,, 2023.