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Paleoflood records from sinkholes using an example from the Ebro River floodplain, northeastern Spain

  • Francisco Gutiérrez (a1), Mario Zarroca (a2), Carmen Castañeda (a3), Domingo Carbonel (a1), Jesús Guerrero (a1), Rogelio Linares (a2), Carles Roqué (a4) and Pedro Lucha (a5)...

This work introduces for the first time the concept of using sinkholes in fluvial valleys as recorders of past floods. The notion is illustrated through the investigation of a complex sinkhole located in a broad floodplain underlain by salt-bearing Cenozoic evaporites. This active sinkhole comprises a large subsidence depression affecting the floodplain and the edge of a terrace, and a nested collapse sinkhole that used to host a sinkhole pond. A borehole drilled in the buried sinkhole pond revealed an ~7.8-m-thick fill that records around 2700 yr of clayey lacustrine deposition interrupted by three types of detrital facies. Two thick pebble gravel beds have been attributed to major high-competence floods: a paleoflood that occurred in Visigothic times (1537–1311 cal yr BP) and the 1961 Great Ebro River Flood, which is the largest event of the instrumental record. A trench dug in the portion of the terrace affected by subsidence exposed a mid-Holocene slack-water paleoflood deposit. The disadvantages and advantages of sinkholes as archives of past flood histories are discussed.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author at: Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra, Universidad de Zaragoza, C/. Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain. E-mail: (F. Gutiérrez).
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