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Frontiers of Earth Science

Front. Earth Sci.    2019, Vol. 13 Issue (2) : 262-276
Evolution model of a modern delta fed by a seasonal river in Daihai Lake, North China: determined from ground-penetrating radar and trenches
Beibei LIU1, Chengpeng TAN2,3(), Xinghe YU4, Xin SHAN3, Shunli LI4
1. College of Geosciences, China University of Petroleum, Beijing 102249, China
2. School of Geoscience and Technology, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu 610500, China
3. Key Laboratory of Marine Sedimentology and Environmental Geology, First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Qingdao 266061, China
4. School of Energy Resources, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing 100083, China
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While deltas fed by seasonal rivers are common in modern sedimentary environments, their characteristics remain unclear as compared to those fed by perennial rivers. This study identifies a small delta discharged by a seasonal stream flowing into Daihai Lake, in northern China, which is driven by ephemeral and high-energy flood events. Detailed 3D facies architecture was analyzed using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and sedimentary logs from outcrop and trenches. Four types of radar surfaces, including truncations of underlying inclined strata, weak reflections, and depositional surface of downlap and onlap, were identified. Six radar facies (high-angle oblique-tangential, low-angle subparallel, gently plane parallel, plane-parallel, chaotic, and continuous strong reflection) were identified based on distinctive reflections, including amplitude, continuity, dip, and termination patterns. Five depositional units (Unit A to E) were documented from proximal to distal delta. Seasonal discharge signatures include significant grain-size decrease over short distance, abundant Froude supercritical flow sedimentary structures, poorly developed barforms, and small-scale scour and fill structures. Records of lake-level and sediment budget were evaluated over the past 60 years. In highstand stage (1960–1980), amalgamated channel (Units A and B), and delta front (Unit C) were deposited. In slope stage (1980–1996), the lower deposits (Units A, B, C) were eroded by Unit D with a distinct truncation surface. In lowstand stage, most eroded sediments bypassed the incised channel and accumulated in the distal part, in which a new depositional unit was formed (Unit E). The model demonstrates that deltas fed by seasonal rivers tend to accumulate large amounts of sediments carried by high magnitude floods within short periods.

Keywords delta evolution      seasonal discharge      ground-penetrating radar      sedimentary architecture      Daihai Lake     
Corresponding Authors: Chengpeng TAN   
Just Accepted Date: 09 November 2018   Online First Date: 18 December 2018    Issue Date: 16 May 2019
 Cite this article:   
Beibei LIU,Chengpeng TAN,Xinghe YU, et al. Evolution model of a modern delta fed by a seasonal river in Daihai Lake, North China: determined from ground-penetrating radar and trenches[J]. Front. Earth Sci., 2019, 13(2): 262-276.
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Beibei LIU
Chengpeng TAN
Xinghe YU
Shunli LI
Fig.1  Study site and location of Daihai Lake. (a) A shaded topographic map of Daihai Lake, showing the drainage system. Data are from SRTM (Shuttle Radar Monitoring Mission). (b) Oblique view of the Bantanzi alluvial system from Google Earth, showing headwater tributaries, main channel and a terminal flow expansion. The area in the dashed block is the study area.
Fig.2  Oblique view of the study delta with locations of the GPR profile (red line) and Trenches T5?T16. The characteristics of topography including the upper terrace, slope, and lower terrace are also shown.
Fig.3  Classification of the defined radar surfaces and radar facies with corresponding sedimentologic records in outcrops and trenches. The radar surfaces fall into two groups (depositional and erosional), and the radar facies fall into three groups (inclined, plane, and irregular).
Fig.4  Five separated GPR profiles with interpreted radar facies and surfaces, showing the characteristics from the proximal to distal zones. (a) Channelized unit A and B were stacked and bounded by internal erosional radar surfaces which were truncated by the uppermost unit D. (b) Unit A pinched out longitudinally and eroded the underlying Unit C. The uppermost Unit D still truncated the lower deposits. (c) Unit C changed from gently plane parallel reflectors to high-angle clinoform. (d) Unit C extended along the relatively steep slope and thinned in the distal part. Unit E onlapped above Unit C. (e) Unit E was filled by oblique and plane reflectors. The locations of each profile are noted in Fig. 2. See details in the text.
Fig.5  Photographs and corresponding sedimentary sequences of trenches T5?T16.
Fig.6  Integrated profile of individual GPR profiles (a), radar facies and surfaces (b), and identified depositional units (c). (d) Trenches T5?T16 correspond well with the radar profile, showing the longitudinal change of architecture. See details in the text.
Fig.7  Models of architectural elements based on geometry, scale, and internal fills. The model includes two basic architecture types (channel and clinoform), which can be subdivided into four types.
Fig.8  Satellite images of Daihai Lake at different ages showing the decline in lake area from 1982 to 2015.
Fig.9  (a) Changes in the lake area and elevation since the 1960s. The recent lake elevation is 1219 m, and the green dash line was estimated without data. (b) Changes in rainfall, evaporation, and input discharge of Daihai Lake since the 1960s. The green dash line was estimated without data. Three stages can be identified from the quantitative data. Stage I: lake elevation was relatively stable at around 1225?1226 m from 1960 to 1982. Stage II: lake elevation declined rapidly from 1225 m to 1221 m in 16 years. Stage III: lake elevation declined slowly from 1221 m to 1219 m in about 20 years. These three stages correspond to the highstand stage, slope stage, and lowstand stage, respectively.
Fig.10  Oblique view of the study delta associated with a longitudinal profile showing the plane position in the sedimentologic record. Combined with the lake-level change curve, it shows the paleo-shoreline in 1980, 1996, and 2015, which correspond to the topography key points (upper terrace, slope, and lower terrace). Splay lobes (dashed fan shape) at the front indicate the pulse of flood events. The progressive shoreline (dashed line) indicates the gradual decline of lake level in the recent decades.
Fig.11  Evolution model of the Bantanzi system showing three stages based on the architectures and facies characteristics with changes in lake-level change and sediment supply.
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