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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences

Seminars and Events

A big fan of signals, or not?

19th February 2019, 12:00 to 13:00, Arthur Holmes Building - ES230 -TR3, Dr. Robert Duller Lecturer in Earth Sciences, University of Leeds

The stratigraphic record must contain information about past landscapes and environmental change, but how can we be sure if we don't have the appropriate toolset? The ability of landscapes to faithfully transmit signals of environmental change (sediment supply) to stratigraphy is unknown because landscapes are ‘noisy’ and evolve even in the absence of external forcing. In other words we know that climate and tectonics modulate sediment supply but we also know that stochastic processes internal to a transport system continuously redistribute this sediment. The issue is that this stochastic redistribution will inevitably obscure signals of sediment supply related to external forcing. We have developed a theoretical framework, validated by physical delta experiments, that can be used to predict the magnitude of change of sediment supply necessary to modify a landscape and have that signal stored in sedimentary deposits. We show that is set by a maximum rate of autogenic volume change over a given time interval. This work has implications for how we interpret the stratigraphic record and places constraints on the ability of modern landscapes to 'absorb' changes in sediment supply.

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