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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Earth Surface Processes and LandformsEarth Surface Processes and Landforms, Volume n/a, Number n/a %@ 0197-9337 (2020)




<p>Abstract The links between flood frequency and rates of channel migration are poorly defined in the ephemeral rivers typical of arid regions. Exploring these links in desert fluvial landscapes would augment our understanding of watershed biogeochemistry and river morphogenesis on early Earth, i.e., prior to the greening of landmasses. Accordingly, we analyse the Mojave River (California), one of the largest watercourses in the Great Basin of western USA. We integrate discharge records with channel-migration rates derived from dynamic time-warping analysis and chronologically calibrated subsidence rates, thereby constraining the river's formative conditions. Our results reveal a slight downstream decrease in bankfull discharge on the Mojave River, rather than the downstream increase typically exhibited by perennial streams. Yet, the number of days per year during which the channel experiences bankfull or higher stages is roughly maintained along the river's length. Analysis of historical peak-flood records suggests that the incidence of channel-formative events responds to modulation in watershed runoff due to the precipitation in the river's headwaters over decades to centuries. Our integrated analysis finally suggests that, while maintaining hydraulic geometries that are fully comparable with many other rivers worldwide, ephemeral desert rivers akin to the Mojave are capable of generating a surprisingly wide range of depositional geometries in the stratigraphic record.</p>