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Tracing outburst floods with 10Be and 26Al: Terraces and megaclasts in Boam Gorge, Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Rosenwinkel, S.; Landgraf, A.; Korup, O.; Schwanghart, W.; Vollkmer, F.; Dzhumabaeva, A.; Merchel, S.; Rugel, G.

In mountainous areas, some naturally dammed lakes that have formed behind large landslides or glacier-derived debris can remain intact and trap large water bodies over hundreds to several thousands of years. Sudden failure of such natural dams, however, may trigger catastrophic outburst flooding with often substantial geomorphic consequences for downstream river reaches. In this context we investigate Pleistocene to Holocene lake-level fluctuations along the western outlet of the world’s second-largest mountain lake Issyk Kul in the northern Kyrgyz Tien Shan. Specifically, we explore whether the alternating phases of lake closure and external drainage, which was manifested by sedimentary deposits, bathymetric, and geochemical data, were associated with catastrophic outbursts or whether lake-level changes were solely driven by the longer-term effects of climate and basin hydrology. We compute exposure ages from cosmogenic 10Be and 26Al of three large (~4 m) boulders to constrain the timing of potential outburst floods at the outlet of the Boam Gorge where it leaves the mountain belt and debouches onto the Chu Basin, downstream of former spillways from Issyk Kul. We used boulder dimensions to constrain hydraulic palaeo-flood models based on flow competence analysis of different flood scenarios. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis of one or more catastrophic lake outbursts, and compatible with palaeo-lake levels reconstructed from lacustrine sediment stacks upstream. We further report 10Be ages from six depth profiles on terraces at the outlet of the Boam Gorge and the Chon Kemin valley in order to put into context the potential geomorphic work of such outburst floods with the longer-term incision history of the gorge.

Keywords: AMS; geomorphologie; cosmogenic nuclide; TCN

  • Poster
    Meeting of Working Group Geomorphology (AK Geomorphologie) as part of the Deutscher Kongress für Geographie (DKG), 03.-04.10.2015, Berlin, Deutschland

Publ.-Id: 21654