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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019 / Ecology and fluvial dynamics of an Early Holocene medium‐sized European lowland river valley (Upper Scheldt, northern Belgium)

Annelies Storme, Jan Bastiaens, Philippe Crombé, Stephen Louwye and Koen Deforce (2019)

Ecology and fluvial dynamics of an Early Holocene medium‐sized European lowland river valley (Upper Scheldt, northern Belgium)

Boreas, 48:678-694.

The fluvial environment of Early Holocene small‐ to middle‐sized lowland rivers in northwest Europe is mostly unstudied due to a lack of preserved and accessible deposits. A rescue excavation in the Scheldt valley in northern Belgium offered the opportunity to study a Boreal alluvial succession in detail. The results of palaeoecological and sedimentological analyses (diatoms, pollen, botanical macro‐remains, molluscs, grain size) characterize the biotic and physical environment in the middle reach of this medium‐sized river system. Although the Early Holocene in the Scheldt Basin has often been portrayed as a period of fluvial stability with marshy conditions and diffuse discharge, this study showed evidence of point bar formation by a small, low‐energy meandering river between ~9.5 and ~8.8 cal. ka BP. The point bar was at least temporarily vegetated and shows a shift from herbaceous riparian vegetation to an open willow‐dominated alluvial forest. This evidence points to a more open vegetation and a more energetic environment than traditionally described for rivers of this size and age. A link to the 9.3 ka BP cooling event is suggested and possible reasons for the scarcity of records of this type of deposits are discussed.
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