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Grad student talk - Catchment sediment yields are not what they used to be…But what has changed?

Thursday, September 22, 2011, 4:30AM - 5:30AM


Matthias Vanmaerck



RL-1 269

In this talk, I will present and discuss the findings of my ongoing PhD research. It is well known that deforestation and agriculture can significantly increase erosion rates at the hillslope scale. Human impacts on sediment yield at the catchment scale (SY, t km-2 y-1), however, are less well understood. An important issue that impedes this understanding is our inability to quantify the SY from a catchment before it was affected by human impacts, i.e. the pre-Anthropocene SY.

To address this research gap, an extensive database of measured SY data for around 2,000 catchments of various sizes in Europe was established. Based on a selection of these data, consisting of measured SY-data from catchments that are not or little affected by humans, a simple model was developed that allows to estimate the Pre-Antropocene SY of a catchment, based on its topographical and lithological characteristics and its sensitivity to earthquakes. Hence, this model can be applied to currently disturbed catchments, allowing a comparison between the pre-Anthropocene and actual SY. In this way, we hope to increase our understanding about the human impact on SY at the catchment scale.