Nav: Home

Zipingpu Reservoir reveals climate-tectonics interplay around 2008 Wenchuan earthquake

June 18, 2019

The roles of "climate change" versus "tectonics" that dominate erosion and sediment transport over geological time scales have long been a hot topic in Earth science. How to effectively separate their respective roles is a big challenge, like the famous "chicken or egg" question.

A new study led by Prof. JIN Zhangdong from the Institute of Earth Environment (IEE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences provided a new insight on the interplay between climate and tectonics from a sediment record in the Zipingpu Reservoir around the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. The findings were published in Science Advances on June 12.

Infrequent extreme events such as large earthquakes pose hazards and have lasting impacts on landscapes and biogeochemical cycles. Sediments provide valuable records of past events, but unambiguously identifying event deposits is challenging because of nonlinear sediment transport processes and poor age control.

The Zipingpu Reservoir, with annually resolved sediments, provides a unique opportunity to document the link between a large earthquake and its sedimentary signature, because it was completed in September 2004 and is located downstream of the area impacted by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.

In October 2016, a 10.89-m sediment core back to the river bed was recovered from the Zipingpu Reservoir. An age model for the core was developed based on the correlation between sedimentary magnetic susceptibility and reservoir water level. The boundary of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake was then assigned to the core depth of 6.20 m (Fig. 1). This is the first time that a 10-year sediment core was dated to annual resolution.

Based on the precise annual chronology, the roles of a single large earthquake and climate on erosion and sediment transfer were evaluated along with sedimentary and hydrometeorological data. The records demonstrated that the grain size and Rb/Sr ratios of the sediments in the Zipingpu Reservoir responded immediately to the earthquake. However, the changes were muted until two years after the event.

The most obvious seismic signals occurred in 2010 when intense monsoonal runoff facilitated fast material export and drove accumulation of coarser grains and lower Rb/Sr sediments, which were then sustained for several years (Fig. 2).

The results indicated that, although the earthquake mobilized very large amounts of sediment by landsliding, hydrological forcing was necessary to transport this debris from hillslopes to downstream sediment stores, even in a location proximal to the mountain front.

The delayed response highlighted the role of intense monsoonal rainfall in propagating tectonic signals into sedimentary archives.

This study provides direct evidence that can inform the interpretation of paleorecords and help to illuminate the ways in which sedimentary archives reflect the complex interaction of tectonics and climate in controlling sediment transfer in tectonically active mountain ranges.
-end-


Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.
Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.