Contrasting climate controls on the hydrology of the mountainous Cauca River and its associated sedimentary basin: Implications for interpreting the sedimentary record

Nicolas Pérez-Consuegra, Natalia Hoyos, Juan Camilo Restrepo, Jaime Escobar, Gregory D. Hoke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In coupled “source-to-sink” systems, spatial differences in hydrology and geomorphology influence how processes in the source are recorded in the sink. The catchment of the tropical Cauca River (source) in the northern (Colombian) Andes, and its associated Mojana lowland sedimentary basin (sink), are a model system in which to explore the relationship between climate processes that control runoff and erosion in the upper catchment, and sediment deposition in the lower basin that occurs through avulsion events and seasonal wetland flooding. This study employed historical climate and hydrologic data from the Cauca River watershed and its associated sedimentary basin, along with topographic data and satellite imagery. We discovered that the Cauca River catchment and its associated Mojana Basin are governed by different patterns of intra- and inter-annual climate variability. Biannual passage of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) over the watershed, annual incursion of the Choco Jet, and sub-decadal variability of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) all modulate runoff and sediment fluxes that ultimately become fluvial deposits (e.g., crevasse splays, channel and floodplain sediments). Fluctuations in wetland water levels and area, preserved as lacustrine and marsh deposits, are influenced primarily by annual variations in rainfall that are controlled by the yearly northernmost extent of the ITCZ. Long-term erosion in the Cauca River catchment is controlled largely by active tectonism in the northern Central Cordillera. Avulsion events on the Cauca River in 2010 and 2011 occurred as a consequence of levee failure during a period of high runoff associated with the negative phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) along with higher cross-floodplain than down-valley slopes in the basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107590
JournalGeomorphology
Volume377
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 15 2021

Keywords

  • ENSO
  • Geomorphology
  • South America
  • Tropics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Contrasting climate controls on the hydrology of the mountainous Cauca River and its associated sedimentary basin: Implications for interpreting the sedimentary record'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this