Publication Details

Dosseto, A. & Schaller, M. (2016). The erosion response to Quaternary climate change quantified using uranium isotopes and in situ-produced cosmogenic nuclides. Earth-Science Reviews, 155 60-81.


Studying how catchment erosion has responded to past climate change can help us better understand not only how landscape evolution operates, but also predict the consequences of future climate change on soil resource availability. Recent years have seen the development of tools that allow a quantitative assessment of past changes in catchment erosion. This work reviews the principles of the application of in situ-produced cosmogenic nuclides and uranium isotopes to quantifying past erosion rates. Results highlight the role of periglacial processes and mass wasting in dictating how catchment erosion responds to climatic variability at the 10-kyr scale. At the million-year scale, it is more difficult to untangle the role of climate and tectonics. A strong coupling exists at the 10-kyr to 100-kyr scales between climatic cycles and the transfer time of regolith from source to sink. This coupling reflects changes in sediment source that are either set by changes in vegetation cover at the catchment scale, or by the storage of sediments on continental shelves, at a larger scale. Although further analytical developments are required for these tools to reach their full potential, existing works suggest that in the near future, they will provide unprecedented quantitative insights on how soil and fluvial systems adapt to external perturbations (climatic, tectonic and/or anthropic).

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