Times associated with source-to-sink propagation of environmental signals during landscape transience

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Stefanie Tofelde, Anne Bernhardt, Brian Romans , Laure Guerit


Sediment archives in the terrestrial and marine realm are regularly analyzed to infer changes in climate and tectonic boundary conditions of the past. However, contradictory observations have been made regarding whether short period events are faithfully preserved in stratigraphic archives; for instance, in marine sediments offshore large river systems. On the one hand, short period events are hypothesized to be non-detectable in the signature of terrestrially derived sediments due to buffering during sediment transport along large river system. On the other hand, several studies have detected signals of short period events in marine records offshore large river systems. We propose that this apparent discrepancy is related to the lack of a differentiation between different types of signals and the lack of distinction between river response times and times related to signal propagation. In this review, we (1) expand the definition of the term ‘signal’ and group signals in sub-categories related to hydraulic grain size characteristics, (2) clarify the different types of ‘times’ and suggest a precise and consistent terminology for future use, (3) compile and discuss factors influencing the times of signal transfer along sediment routing systems and how those times vary with hydraulic grain size characteristics, and (4) discuss the resulting consequence regarding signal preservation in stratigraphy. Unravelling different types of signals and distinctive time periods related to signal propagation addresses the discrepancies mentioned above and allows a more comprehensive exploration of event preservation in stratigraphy – a prerequisite for reliable environmental reconstructions from terrestrially derived sedimentary records.




Earth Sciences


stratigraphy, source-to-sink, landscape transience, source-to-sink, stratigraphy, response time, landscape transience, response time


Published: 2020-11-18 15:31


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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