EGU23-5412, updated on 08 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Assessment of Quaternary variations of the drainage pattern through morphotectonic investigations in Piedmont (North-western Italy)

Victor Buleo Tebar1, Mauro Bonasera2, Simone Racano3, and Giandomenico Fubelli1
Victor Buleo Tebar et al.
  • 1Università degli Studi di Torino, Earth Science, Turin, Italy (
  • 2Geological Survey of Italy - Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), Via Vitaliano Brancati, 48, Rome, Italy
  • 3University of Potsdam, Am Neuen Palais, 10, Potsdam, Germany

Drainage network systems are one of the more responsive elements to recent active tectonic from among all the topographic features. Their anomalies can be significant in areas with high relief energy or less noticeable where intense deposition rates might make capable tectonic signatures not visible. In addition, surface processes are even dominated by changes in climate. Since landscape evolution is the result of the combination of these elements, drainage network systems represent a key element for understanding the role and importance of different factors involved in the processes during Quaternary that have led to the formation of the current relief.

The study area comprises two different zones in Piedmont region (North-Western Italy): the Western Po Plain and the Langhe and Monferrato hills, both located in a complex tectonic framework at which a juxtaposition on a crustal scale between Alpine metamorphic Units and the Ligurian Units of the Apennines takes place. A multi-disciplinary approach is proposed combining geomorphology and geostatistics, with the aim of obtaining a better understanding and knowledge of various aspects of the Quaternary evolution of the area on a regional scale.

A morphometric analysis was carried out based on 5 m resolution DEM supported by geological and geomorphological field surveys. To assess the changes in the river network’s direction a quantitative geomorphic analysis of river pattern has been performed through Geographic Information System (GIS) and MATLAB® tools. Different parameters were calculated with the aim of detecting anomalies and the estimation of local uplift and different erosion rates.  Following the extraction of longitudinal river profiles, calculating Normalized Channel steepness index (Ksn) has been possible for assessing river incision, based on local channel slope, contributing drainage area and some other characteristics related to incision processes and basin hydrology. This step has also allowed the identification of knickpoints whose presence represent a deviation of steady-state streams condition and hence a transient phase of potentially landscape changes.  These anomalies are present whether they were produced by tectonic deformation or by different factors. In addition, a paleotopographic reconstructions of Pleistocene deposits have allowed the estimation of the thickness of the deposits and the reconstruction of the river patterns during this period.

Preliminary results have provided relevant evidence of potentially recent and important changes in the regional drainage network of Western Po Plain resulting from the combination of tectonic activity during the Early Pleistocene and the climatic variation from the Middle and Late Pleistocene.

How to cite: Buleo Tebar, V., Bonasera, M., Racano, S., and Fubelli, G.: Assessment of Quaternary variations of the drainage pattern through morphotectonic investigations in Piedmont (North-western Italy), EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 23–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-5412,, 2023.