1887
Volume 33, Issue 4
  • E-ISSN: 1365-2117
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Abstract

[

The BQART formulais an empirical relationship between observed total suspend sediment load (Tss) and catchment area (A), relief (R), temperature (T), water discharge (Q) and erodibility (B) in modern river systems. Application of the method for anancient S2S mass budget study requires: (1) an assessment of the methods suitability, (2) a paleogeographicreconstruction, (3) a paleoclimate reconstruction and (4) Monte Carlo simulations.

, Abstract

Constraining the timing and volume of sediment dispersal in an ancient sedimentary system is vital to understand a basin's infill history. One preferred method for a first‐order approximation of ancient sediment load estimates, the BQART model, is based on empirical observations of modern river systems relating basin morphology, topography, climate, run‐off and bedrock characteristics. Despite the popularity of such methods, a comprehensive assessment on the validity of using modern river observations to measure sediment load on geological timescales is lacking. Here, we investigate the uncertainties, sensitivities and practicalities surrounding the use of modern empirical observations in general and the BQART model in particular, to evaluate ancient sediment river loads. Although catchment area and relief are the least constrained parameters in an ancient sedimentary system, the temperature parameter may have an even more significant impact in the range of predicted sediment load estimates using a BQART approach. The applicability of BQART is most suitable for regional to continental scale source‐to‐sink systems that are based on robust paleogeographic and paleoclimatic models of cold (<2°C) or warm temperate (>8°C) climates. One further needs to consider the high amplitude discharge events that can dominate the stratigraphic record which are not captured by historical observations of sediment load over a 30‐year period. In addition, our limited understanding of bedload material transport and an unknown pristine environment in the Anthropocene reduce the reliability of modern sediment load estimates for the ancient. Mass budget estimates in deep time based on empirical relationships of modern river systems can thus provide first‐order estimates within an order of magnitude but need to consider the limitations imposed by extrapolating the modern to the ancient. Here, we present a framework to consider the suitability of the BQART method for ancient source‐to‐sink mass budget analyses.

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Keyword(s): BQART; deep‐time; mass balance; RoBART; sediment load; source‐to‐sink

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